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Regional Headlines for Friday, October 17, 2014


KS Attorney General Appeals 2 Death Penalty Decisions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has formally appealed a decision to vacate death sentences of three men convicted in two separate murder cases. Schmidt announced Thursday that he will appeal Kansas Supreme Court decisions in the case of brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr, and Sidney Gleason. The state court in July upheld capital murder convictions against the three men but vacated their death sentences. The Carr brothers were convicted of killing four people in December 2000 in Wichita after committing several other crimes against them and a woman who survived the ordeal. Gleason was convicted in Barton County for the February 2004 killing of Mikiala Martinez and Darren Wornkey in Great Bend. Martinez was a potential witness against Gleason in an earlier crime. Wornkey was her boyfriend.


US Representative Paul Ryan Lends Support to Kansas Senator Pat Roberts

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is urging Kansans to back Republican Senator Pat Roberts in a tight re-election race, saying the three-term incumbent isn't a "rubber stamp" for President Barack Obama. Appearing Friday at a hotel in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Ryan is the latest in a string of high profile Republicans to stump for the 78-year-old senator. Attention on the race intensified when the Democratic candidate dropped out, improving independent candidate Greg Orman's odds. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to recapture a majority and had always counted on Roberts winning re-election. He's seeking to unify the GOP behind him by highlighting his opposition to Obama and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. Orman says he'll caucus with whichever party has a clear majority.


Kansas Guard Member Being Honored for Heroism

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas National Guard member will be honored next week for helping save a woman from a burning house in Wichita two years ago. Technical Sergeant Shawn A. Rucker will receive the Airman's Medal from Major General Lee Tafanelli, the Kansas adjutant general. The ceremony will take place Monday at McConnell Air Force Base. Rucker serves with the Guard's 184th Intelligence Wing. Officials say he was driving home the night of November 24, 2012, when he noticed a large plume of smoke and followed it to a house partly engulfed in flames. Two people were on the porch, but a woman was still inside. Rucker and one of the homeowners found her asleep in the basement and carried her to safety. The Airman's Medal is awarded for heroic, dangerous actions that don't involve combat.


Brownback Fills Vacant Northeast Kansas Judgeship

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback has appointed a veteran Topeka attorney to a seat on the district court that considers challenges to state laws and agency actions. Brownback announced Thursday that Teresa Watson will succeed Shawnee County District Judge Jean Schmidt, who recently retired. Watson is an attorney in private practice who received her law degree from Washburn University in Topeka in 1994. She has also worked as a research attorney for both the Kansas Supreme Court and the state Court of Appeals. Brownback cited her experience in private practice and with the state. The district court in Shawnee County has a higher profile than others because it is in the capital city and reviews questions about the constitutionality of laws or the legality of state agency actions.


Democrat Slams Plan Giving State Medicare Control

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Democratic nominee for Kansas insurance commissioner is deriding a proposed multi-state health care compact that would give the state control of Medicare within its borders. Dennis Anderson spoke Friday at a candidate forum in Wichita with Republican nominee Ken Selzer, who is backing the plan as a way to get Medicare out of the federal government. Anderson says he hasn't found any senior citizens who are unhappy with the way their Medicare is handled now. Selzer says the proposed compact has built-in safeguards and would bring decision-making closer to home. Anderson and Selzer are vying to succeed incumbent Republican insurance commissioner Sandy Praeger, who is not seeking re-election. Friday's forum was hosted by the Kansas Association of Insurance Agents.


Commission Removes Snake from Threatened List

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Despite scientific recommendations against it, a Kansas commission voted to remove a snake species from the state's threatened species list. The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission voted 6-1 Thursday to remove the redbelly snake from the list. The vote came after developers in northeast Kansas complained the species' threatened status had caused costly delays in development projects. State lawmakers threatened during the last session to remove the species themselves, or to end the state's threatened and endangered species program. The Wichita Eagle reports that Robin Jennison, Wildlife and Parks secretary, said he feared lawmakers would impose more limitations on his department if the snake was not removed from the list. The snake will be considered a "species in need of conservation," which provides little protection from habitat destruction.


McPherson Warehouse to Expand, Add 100 Jobs

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) - A manufacturer of pipe fixtures says it will expand its warehouse in McPherson and add 100 jobs to the operation. The Wichita Eagle reports that Viega plans to break ground in November on an 80,000-square-foot addition to its 439,000-square-foot warehouse and manufacturing operation. The company is a German-based manufacturer of pipe fixtures for plumbing, heating and industrial use. Its U.S. headquarters is in Wichita. The expansion will allow the company to start making MegaPress carbon steel press fittings, starting in 2016. Viega owns and operates five manufacturing and distribution centers around the United States.

Home Foreclosures Down Sharply in Kansas, Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A California-based real estate research company says new foreclosure cases in Kansas and Missouri declined sharply in the third quarter from year-ago levels while rising slightly nationwide. RealtyTrac reports the number of default notices, auctions and bank repossessions fell 31 percent in Kansas during the July to September period, while they plummeted 45.5 percent in Missouri during that same period. The Kansas City Star reports that foreclosures nationwide climbed .42 percent in the third quarter, which is the first quarterly increase since the third quarter of 2011. But they dropped 16 percent in September. The states with the highest foreclosure rates in the third quarter were Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Nevada and Illinois.

Lawrence Police Push New Facility

LAWRENCE, Kan. _ Next month, Lawrence voters will have to decide whether to approve a local sales tax increase to build a new police facility. The police department held a public meeting in Lawrence last (THUR) night to answer questions about the proposal. The total cost of the new facility would be nearly $26 million dollars, funded through a 0.2 percent increase in the sales tax. That would mean 2 cents out of every $10 spent in Lawrence would be dedicated to the new police building. Currently, the department utilizes six different locations throughout the city and police officals say the new, centralized headquarters would provide the space the department will need for the next 20 years. But some residents oppose the proposed facility and the sales tax needed to finance it. They say the proposed facility is not located close enough to high-crime areas and they would prefer any additional tax dollars be spent to study why the city has a considerably higher crime rate than cities of comparable size, despite having more officers per capita than those cities. Lawrence voters will decide whether to approve the sales tax increase at the polls on November 4.


Former Auburn City Clerk Sentenced to Prison

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The former city clerk of Auburn was sentenced to one year and a day in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $189,500 in restitution for embezzlement that occurred while she was in office. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a news release Friday that 61-year-old Alice Riley, of Mayetta, pleaded guilty in July to one count of interstate transportation of stolen funds. Riley also was prohibited from gambling. Prosecutors say the crimes occurred between 2009 and this year. She served as clerk in the Shawnee County town for 31 years before resigning in February. Riley issued duplicate payroll checks and wrote other checks to herself. She hid the embezzlement by creating false entries in the city's books and bank statements.


Intruder Grabs Child in Kansas Home

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is accused of breaking into a home and grabbing a 3-year-old child before police wrestled the intruder away. The Hutchinson News reports that the incident happened around 11 pm Thursday in the south-central city of Newton. Authorities said police received several calls about a man trying to force his way into at least four homes along a Newton street. Police began searching the area and heard screaming from inside one house. An officer confronted the intruder, who had taken the toddler from a bedroom while talking about harming the family. The suspect and the officer were both injured in a scuffle. The intruder was taken into custody for a mental health assessment.


Kansas Man Sentenced for Theft, Meth Possession

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is going to prison for stealing more than $50,000 from a 75-year-old disabled woman. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office said Friday that 35-year-old Jeremy Glenn, of Mulvane, was sentenced this week to slightly more than three years behind bars. Glenn pleaded no contest to felony theft and possession of methamphetamine. Authorities said Glenn stole from the woman after offering to help clean her home in Derby. He used checks and her ATM card to access her accounts. The sentence requires Glenn to repay $21,000 to the victim and $32,000 to Morgan Stanley for funds taken from her investment account.


Wichita Man Gets 55 Years in Home Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita man has been sentenced to 55 years and one month in prison for a shooting that left a man paralyzed. Tyler Ruhl was sentenced on Thursday, which was his 21st birthday. He was convicted in August of attempted first-degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated battery and possession of a firearm by a felon. Authorities say 51-year-old Timothy Gurley of Wichita was found shot in his home in September 2013.


Jury Awards Nearly $1 Million to Fired Officer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A federal jury has awarded nearly $1 million in wages and damages to a McPherson police officer who was fired after being found asleep on duty. Jurors found the city of McPherson discriminated against Matthew Michaels on account of the man's disability: sleep apnea. The city attorney says officials plan to ask the judge to overturn the verdict.

Machinists Union Backing Textron Contract Offer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Machinists Union is backing the final contract offer that Textron Aviation made to its Cessna and Beechcraft workers. Union members are scheduled to vote on the proposed contract today (FRI.) The union says the offer commits to increasing jobs at the Wichita facility and boosts pay and benefits.


Biofuels Plant a Harbinger of Renewable Fuel Future

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says a commercial biofuels plant opening in southwest Kansas represents the future of ethanol production. Moniz spoke to The Associated Press ahead of Friday's grand opening of Abengoa's second-generation cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas. The plant has a capacity to produce 25 million gallons of ethanol per year. The $500 million plant is one of three commercially sized biorefineries in the United States that use only plant waste to produce ethanol. This means it doesn't compete for food crops. The facility also includes an electric generation plant. Moniz says the project represents the Energy Department's approach to funding research on novel conversion approaches for biofuels, backed by a loan guarantee program that brings these commercial-scale projects to fruition. Abengoa is a Spanish multinational corporation.


Arts Panel Approves Design for Eisenhower Memorial

WASHINGTON (AP) — A key arts panel has approved a revised design for a memorial to honor President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, which could clear the way for groundbreaking. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts voted Thursday to approve architect Frank Gehry's new design for the $140 million project.


Group Files Fair Housing Complaint in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A company that manages several low-income apartment buildings in Kansas City is accusing city officials of trying to force black residents to move out of the apartments. Eagle Point Companies filed a federal complaint this week with against Kansas City government, councilman Jim Glover, the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority and Peter Cassel of MAC Property Management. The company alleges the defendants tried to force black residents out of apartments in a central Kansas City neighborhood known as Hyde Park. City officials contend the apartments were a source of crime in Hyde Park. The Kansas City Star reports Glover denied the accusations and City Attorney Bill Geary said the city would have no comment. Cassel and a representative of the industrial authority did not respond to requests for comment.


Survey: Slow Growth in Rural Parts of 10 States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A new survey suggests slower economic growth ahead in rural areas of Kansas and 9 other states in the Plains and the West. The study from Creighton University in Omaha says falling grain prices and weak global growth are weighing down the economy in rural areas. It was based on a survey of bankers from rural areas in the ten states.

Junior College Sponsors Peace-Building Conference

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Promoting peace in part of the African nation of Uganda will the focus of a one-day conference at Johnson County Community College next month. The gathering takes place Nov. 1 with the director of the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Missouri's Park University giving the keynote speech. The center supports something it describes as peace journalism and says choices about how stories are framed can improve the prospects for peace. Breakout sessions will feature presentations from groups that include the Medical Missions Foundation. The conference will be geared toward students and others who are interested in international relations, journalism, providing health care in the developing world, social justice and peace/conflict studies.


Wichita Police ID Couple Found Dead in Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police are searching for a suspect in the deaths of a couple in their south Wichita home. The victims were identified Friday as 72-year-old Godofredo Moreno and his wife, 70-year-old Martha Moreno. They were found dead in their home Thursday. Wichita police Lieutenant Jeff Gilmore says the couple's vehicle was found Thursday afternoon engulfed in flames in a field in southwest Sedgwick County. Gilmore says investigators found no sign of forced entry or a struggle inside the home. The cause of death has not been determined, although police said Thursday the couple appeared to have suffered several stab wounds.


Ned Yost Has Underdog Royals Back in World Series

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jeff Foxworthy figures he can wait just a while longer to go hunting with his neighbor and good buddy. After all, Ned Yost is a bit busy this time of the year. He has the Kansas City Royals back in the World Series for the first time since 1985. Yost has become one of the central figures of the baseball playoffs, with his often-questionable moves and steadfast belief in his team. And here's the thing: That debatable decision-making has proven to be faultless during a perfect run to the Fall Classic. Now, a fan base that coined the term "yosted" for any kind of screw-up is lavishing Yost with the kind of praise reserved for hometown heroes such as George Brett and Frank White.



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