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Regional Headlines for Friday, October 10, 2014


UPDATE: Kansas Supreme Court Blocks Gay Marriage Licenses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Supreme Court has blocked the state's most populous county from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, hours after the first one was issued under an order from a lower-court judge.  The Supreme Court issued a three-page order in response to a petition filed by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. The high court said it acted for "statewide consistency.''  The Supreme Court set a hearing for November 6.  Schmidt argued that the chief district court judge in Johnson County exceeded his authority in ordering clerks and other judges to approve marriage applications from gay couples, despite a ban on gay marriage in the state constitution. Judge Kevin Moriarty issued his order after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from five other states seeking to preserve their bans.


ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Kansas Gay Marriage Ban

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against Kansas's ban on same-sex marriage on behalf of two couples who were denied marriage licenses this week. The lawsuit filed Friday challenges a state law against gay marriage and a provision added to the state constitution in 2005 prohibiting same-sex marriages. The defendants are court clerks in Douglas and Sedgwick counties, along with the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The agency furnishes marriage license forms and keeps marriage records. The couples in the lawsuit are Kail Marie and Michelle Brown, of Lecompton, and Kerry Wilks and Donna DiTrani of Wichita. A Johnson County court office issued a same-sex marriage license Friday, but Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the Kansas Supreme Court to block such actions.


UPDATE: Judge Denies Riley County Marriage License for Same-Sex Couple

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has denied a marriage license for a same-sex couple who said their application had been accepted with open arms a day earlier. KMAN-AM reports that Darcie Bonhenblust and her partner, Joleen Hickman, found out Friday morning their application had been denied. The two say the Riley County clerk told them Thursday when they filed their application there was a three-day waiting period and they could come back Tuesday to pick up their license. But on Friday morning they received an order from Judge Meryl Wilson denying the license. Bohnenblust called the rejection disheartening but says she anticipates it eventually will come through. Johnson County on Friday issued what is believed to be the state's first marriage license to a same-sex couple.


Gay Marriage in Kansas Throws Twist into Political Campaigns

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The first marriage of a gay couple in Kansas has thrown a new twist to a pair of intensely fought races for U.S. Senate and governor. A suburban Kansas City county issued a marriage license to two women Friday. The move was quickly denounced by the Republican incumbents, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts and Governor Sam Brownback. Kansas voters have typically backed GOP candidates who are staunchly against gay marriage. But it's unclear whether that will hold true this year, as Roberts and Brownback fight for votes from moderates concerned about the economy. Independent Senate candidate Greg Orman has said he doesn't think government ought to prohibit gay marriage. Democratic gubernatorial challenger Paul Davis opposed the Kansas gay-marriage ban but has not campaigned specifically in support of gay marriage.


Davis Camp Upset by Ad in Kansas Governor's Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Allies of Democrat Paul Davis are criticizing a new television ad in the Kansas governor's race highlighting Davis's presence at a strip club near Coffeyville during a 1998 meth raid. Davis's backers had a teleconference Friday to decry the Republican Governors Association ad. Davis's campaign labeled it a "disgusting" smear. The RGA and Republican Governor Sam Brownback's re-election campaign did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment. The RGA began running ads about the 1998 incident September 30. The new, 30-second spot features a flashing neon strip-club sign and a close up of a dancer's stiletto heels. At the time of the incident, Davis's law firm represented the strip club's owner. Davis was not arrested in the meth raid, but an officer reported finding him in a back room with a nearly naked woman.


Cruz Visits KS in Support of Roberts Campaign

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is urging tea party supporters in Kansas to vote for Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, warning that staying home would empower Democrats. Cruz appeared with Roberts and Oklahoma U.S. Senator Tom Coburn Thursday in Wichita, helping to kick off a four-day bus tour with stops in 11 eastern Kansas communities. Cruz says he recognizes the tea party had a hard-fought primary in Kansas, but he's stressing the primary is over. Roberts told the more than 100 supporters that the road to a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate runs through Kansas.  The three-term Kansas incumbent faces a tough race against independent candidate Greg Orman. Orman is running as a centrist, pledging to break partisan gridlock.


Huelskamp Gets Endorsement from Democrat

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Congressman Tim Huelskamp is touting his endorsement by a college student who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in Kansas's 1st Congressional District. Bryan Whitney is a political science student at Wichita State University. He was defeated in the August 5 Democratic primary by former Manhattan mayor Jim Sherow, who teaches history at Kansas State University. In a news release from the Huelskamp campaign, Whitney said Thursday he believes the GOP incumbent will better represent the values of western Kansans in the U.S. House. Whitney is not the only one to cross party lines ahead of November's elections. A group of moderate former Republican state legislators called Traditional Republicans for Common Sense has endorsed Sherow over Huelskamp, a tea party favorite.


Kansas Parks Department Seeks 5 New Game Wardens

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is so intent on filling five open game warden's jobs that it's publicly urging people who enjoy the outdoors to take the test necessary to get into the hiring pool. The state Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said Thursday it will take applications until Nov. 7 and administer the test Dec. 20 in Salina. The department says people interested in becoming game wardens should contact the agency's human resources section at its Pratt office or visit its website. The department currently has 75 game wardens, with vacancies in Atchison, Jewell, Miami, Scott and Seward counties. The positions pay about $19 an hour.


Kansas Forecast to Bring in Bountiful Corn Harvest

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government forecast shows Kansas is expected to harvest 592 million bushels of corn this fall while setting a record yield for bushels cut per acre. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday this year's corn crop in Kansas is shaping up to be 17 percent larger than a year ago. A record yield is forecast of 160 bushels per acre, or 33 bushels per acre more than last year. Anticipated production of most other fall crops in Kansas is also higher than a year ago. A forecast of 188 million bushels for grain sorghum is up 14 percent. Soybean production of 148 million bushels is up 13 percent. Cotton production of 55,000 bales is up 34 percent. But anticipated sunflower production of 77.6 million pounds is down 5 percent.


Pittsburg State Student Fatally Shot

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — The death of a college student in southeast Kansas is being investigated as a homicide. The Joplin Globe reports that an autopsy showed 20-year-old Taylor C. Thomas died of a single gunshot wound. He was a junior at Pittsburg State University majoring in mechanical engineering technology. Officers responding to a disturbance call at an off-campus home where Thomas lived found him wounded around 2 am Thursday. He was pronounced dead at Via Christi Hospital. Pittsburg police said Friday the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, campus police and the Crawford County Sheriff's Department have joined the investigation. No arrests have been made.


Report: Driver Was Changing CD Before Fatal Crash

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Topeka say a driver involved in an accident that killed an 85-year-old motorcycle rider told officers he was looking at his CD player just before the collision. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports it paid $5 to the city's Police Department Thursday for a copy of the report on the September 12th accident. The report quotes the 48-year-old pickup truck driver as saying he was trying to put a compact disc into his CD player just before the collision. The man said he looked up and slammed on his brakes but hit the motorcycle ridden by Harold Eulert. The motorcycle then struck the back of another pickup. Eulert died at a hospital. Police are continuing to investigate, and no charges have been filed.


Police: Kansas Woman Robbed of Necklace in Home

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — An Overland Park woman says she was robbed of her diamond necklace after two men broke into her home and one held a knife to her neck. Overland Park police officer Gary Mason tells KMBC-TV the robbery was reported on Thursday. The woman tells police the men entered her house after breaking a window next to the front door. Mason says the woman screamed, which might have scared the men away. He says the suspects left without taking anything else and got into a white four-door vehicle driven by a third person. Police are investigating.


Derby Police Say Woman's Abduction Report False

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas police department says it's no longer looking for a suspicious black van or a suspect in reported child abduction attempt that never happened. A woman told Derby police on Oct. 1 that a man in a van pulled alongside her and her children, offered candy and cookies and then jumped out and grabbed her 3-year-old daughter when she refused. Police put out an alert last week for a black van and released a composite sketch of a suspect. The woman told police she fended off the attacker by hitting him twice and forcing him to release the child. The Wichita Eagle reports authorities announced on Thursday they had determined the report was false, and that the woman had recanted the initial accusations.


Kansas Man Sentenced in Robbery, Rape Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to 10 years and nine months in prison for his role in the rape and robbery of a 76-year-old woman. A Sedgwick County judge on Thursday handed down the punishment to 19-year-old John Thompson Jr. He pleaded guilty in July to aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and attempted kidnapping for the June 2013 crimes. Thompson was also ordered to pay $3,750 in restitution. His co-defendant, 18-year-old Marquatesz Redmon, was convicted last week of rape and six other charges. Redmon was a minor when the crimes were committed but was tried as an adult. He will be sentenced in November. Police say the teens broke into the woman's home and robbed her. She was sexually assaulted at gunpoint and authorities used DNA samples to help prosecute the men.


Arrest Made in Rape of 100-Year-Old Woman

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita have arrested a suspect in the rape of a 100-year-old woman during a break-in at her home. The 35-year-old man was being held Friday in the Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of rape and aggravated burglary. He's expected to be charged next week. Police have not released the Wichita man's name, but say he's a known gang member with an extensive burglary record. Police Captain Troy Livingston says the man was in custody for burglary when the sex crimes unit was alerted that he was a known burglar in the area. Livingston says forensic evidence linked him to the rape. The woman, who lives alone, told police she was awakened the night of September 29 by intruders. Livingston described the victim as a strong and brave woman.


Death of Kansas City Boy Ruled Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The death of an 8-year-old Kansas City boy following a severe asthma attack has been classified as a homicide. The Kansas City Star reports that the Jackson County (Missouri) medical examiner cited lack of medical treatment as a contributing factor in the late August death of Tyler Lane. No charges have been filed as detectives continue to investigate. Kansas City police were called to Children's Mercy Hospital on August 15, a day after Tyler was admitted. A police report said the boy had suffered a severe asthma attack and was hospitalized with suspected brain hemorrhaging. A social worker told police Tyler had been sent home from school a few days earlier because of asthma attacks and told not to return until he had medication for asthma.


Southwest Lost Nearly $7M on Some Wichita Flights

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgewick County records show Southwest Airlines lost nearly $7 million in its first eight months of offering flights from Wichita to Dallas and Chicago. The Wichita Eagle reports the airline's service from Wichita to Las Vegas made a modest profit of $57,600 during the same time from July 2013 to February 2014. Southwest was able to recoup most of its $6.8 million loss through a state program and some local funds. An airline analyst says that without the guarantee, the airline could leave Wichita at some point for more lucrative markets. A Southwest spokesman declined to comment on specific routes or dollar figures, but says the airline is working to develop a self-sustaining operation in Wichita.


FBI, IRS Investigate Pittsburg State MBA Director

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Pittsburg State University says the FBI and Internal Revenue Service are looking into questionable financial procedures attributed to the former director of the university's master's degree in business administration program. The Joplin Globe reports an internal review by the university found questionable financial procedures for Michael Muoghalu, who taught finance at the school for 23 years. Muoghalu was placed on unpaid administrative leave and submitted his resignation letter in September. He told the Globe he was unable to comment on the matter. University spokesman Chris Kelly says the school can't comment, either, but has informed the IRS and FBI it planned to publicly identify the agencies with which Pittsburg State is cooperating.


Family Donates $1M to Fort Hays State

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Two longtime Fort Hays State University donors are giving the school $1 million for scholarships. The school said Thursday the donation from Don and Chris Bickle will benefit athletes and students from their hometown of Hoisington. Fort Hays State University Foundation President and CEO Tim Chapman says the gift will help the foundation achieve a $12 million fundraising goal. The Power of One Scholarship Campaign is designed to recognize the service of former university president Edward Hammond. Chapman says the gift will make a "huge impact for students." Don Bickle thanked Commerce Bank and his business partners through the years for providing the wherewithal to make the gift.


Wisconsin Man Returns Stolen World Series Bunting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 50-year-old Wisconsin banker who snatched bunting from Royals Stadium during the 1985 World Series has returned the keepsake to its rightful owner. Jerry Kuehl was a senior at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire when his roommate scored World Series tickets from an aunt in Overland Park, Kansas. Kuehl told The Kansas City Star ( that even though he was a Milwaukee Brewers fan, he cheered for the home-team Royals in their 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. After the game Kuehl was standing near the foul pole where the 8-foot-long bunting flapped. He says he couldn't resist taking it down and folding it beneath his jacket. Kuehl sent the banner back the day after the Royals' Wild Card Game win, along with a $250 check to Royals Charities.


Royals Keep Same Roster as for ALDS; Orioles Add Matusz for ALCS

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Kansas City Royals will enter the AL Championship Series with the same 25-man roster they used in a sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. Manager Ned Yost has an 11-man pitching staff, six outfielders, five infielders, designated hitter Billy Butler and catchers Salvador Perez and Erik Kratz. Baltimore's roster, as expected, does not include suspended first baseman Chris Davis. The Orioles have an 11-man pitching staff that includes left-handed reliever Brian Matusz. He replaced Ubaldo Jimenez, who was part of Baltimore's roster for the ALDS. That was the only change in manager Buck Showalter's roster. Game 1 is scheduled for Friday night, weather permitting.




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