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Regional Headlines for Friday, October 4, 2013


KS Supreme Court Reverses Permit for New Coal Plant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has reversed a state agency's decision to issue a permit to construct a new coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas. Friday's unanimous decision by the justices is a setback for Sunflower Electric Power Corporation in its plans to build a second plant near Holcomb. The justices ruled that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment failed to account for new emission standards imposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency that were in place at the time the permit was issued. The ruling sends Sunflower's permit request back to the KDHE to consider the stricter standards before granting the permit. The case was brought by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups who claim the permitting process was flawed.


KS Officials: Gay Couples Must File Taxes as Singles

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas revenue officials are saying that same-sex couples must file their state income tax returns as if each person were single — even if they filed as married on their federal returns. The state Revenue Department issued the guidance Friday. It plans to provide a worksheet in its instruction booklet for calculating income, deductions and other data. The agency says the approach adheres to the Kansas Constitution's definition of marriage. It contends the recent U.S. Supreme Court case upheld the rights of states to define and regulate marriage. But Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, says tax officials are sidestepping Kansas law. Witt says Kansas law says requires married couples to use their federal filing status as the basis for their Kansas taxes. He wants the governor to rescind what he calls the discriminatory directive.


KS Supreme Court Expands Post-Conviction DNA Testing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a state statute limiting post-conviction DNA analysis to cases involving only first-degree murder or rape is unconstitutional. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the court said Friday that the statute violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The decision reverses a Wyandotte County district court ruling that denied DNA testing to Jerome Cheeks, who was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison after being convicted in 1993 of second-degree murder. The high court's decision says the Kansas law limiting post-conviction DNA analysis only to people convicted of first-degree murder or rape should be extended to cover people serving life sentences for second-degree murder.


Thunderstorms Expected in Plains States

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Autumn storms are threatening much of the Midwest, dumping heavy snow in South Dakota, spawning a tornado in Nebraska and threatening possibly dangerous thunderstorms from Wisconsin to Oklahoma. A foot of snow had already fallen in the northern South Dakota's Black Hills early Friday. John Chamberlain with the National Weather Service in Rapid City tells South Dakota Public Broadcasting that the storm is one of most intense fall storms in a long time in the area. No travel was advised on some western South Dakota roads and some schools canceled classes. Other states in the storm's path include Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. Even Texas could be affected. In South Dakota, as much as 30 inches of snow could fall in the Black Hills, with 12 inches on the plains.


Kansas National Guard Furloughing Civilian Support Staff

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The federal shutdown has already furloughed 772 members of the Kansas National Guard, and the Adjutant General's Department says 263 civilians who support the Guard will be furloughed as well. Friday's announcement says the civilians are state employees whose jobs are funded by the federal government. The adjutant general, Major General Lee Tafanelli, said 139 of the affected civilians work mainly in Topeka, Wichita and Salina. They perform supply, clerical, maintenance and repair support for the federal functions of the Guard and the Adjutant General's department. The other 124 civilians work at the Regional Sustainment Maintenance Sites at Fort Riley and in Salina. The furloughed Guard members include 417 soldiers, 209 airmen from the 190th Air Refueling Wing in Topeka and 146 airmen at the 184th Intelligence Wing in Wichita.


KS Agency Reminds Visitors: State Parks Are Open

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas agency wants to clear up confusion about the effects of the federal shutdown on camping, fishing and other recreational activities around the state. The Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism issued a statement Thursday pointing out that all state parks and state-run fishing lakes remain open. The picture is a little murkier at the reservoirs owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. The state agency says federal campgrounds, day-use areas and boat ramps at the reservoirs are closed. But the state operates parks and wildlife areas at many of the reservoirs that allow access to a variety of activities, including camping, fishing and boating. The five National Historic Sites in Kansas remain closed.

Federal Shutdown Brings Halt to Wichita Aviation Sales

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The federal government shutdown has affected the Wichita general aviation industry, which can't complete aircraft sales without a key office in the Federal Aviation Administration. Aircraft sales can't be finalized because aircraft registrations can't be obtained through the Federal Aviation Administration's Aircraft Registry Branch in Oklahoma City. The Wichita Eagle reported that the registry office is closed. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been furloughed and offices closed Tuesday when Congress failed to pass legislation to authorize spending after September 30. General Aircraft Manufacturers Association president and CEO Pete Bunce says the current closure also comes at the start of the busiest time for aircraft deliveries. Bombardier and Beechcraft say they're closely monitoring the federal shutdown. Cessna declined comment.


KS Woman Struck, Dragged by KC Bus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A northeast Kansas woman is hospitalized after being struck and dragged nearly a block by a bus in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. KCTV reports that the 68-year-old Shawnee woman suffered what police Sergeant Bill Mahoney described as life-threatening injuries. The woman was walking near a downtown intersection just before 7 am Friday when she was hit by an Area Transportation Authority bus making a left turn. Mahoney says the driver was alerted by a passer-by who pounded on the bus after seeing the woman being dragged underneath. Investigators believe the woman was in the driver's blind spot as he made the turn. Mahoney called it "a terrible accident" but says police will examine video from cameras mounted on the bus.


KS Scraps Idea of Clinton Lake Resort

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Lawrence city manager's office says the state has scrapped plans for a resort at Clinton Lake State Park. City Manager David Corliss told The Lawrence Journal-World that state officials have notified the city that the only bid for a resort at Clinton Lake State Park is no longer being considered. A letter from state officials says the project wasn't financially feasible for the state. The prospects for the Clinton Lake resort appeared dim earlier when the state received only one proposal. Officials with the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks & Tourism had hoped a 175-room hotel, resort and conference facility could be built at the state park.


Olathe Police Seeking 3 Women for Lifting Wallets

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Police in suburban Kansas City are searching for three women suspected of stealing wallets from patrons at two grocery stores. The Kansas City Star reports that police in Olathe and Overland Park are circulating photographs of the women suspected in "distraction" thefts at stores on September 22. Police say two victims reported being distracted by the women and later found their wallets missing from their purses. The victims' credit cards were then used in unauthorized transactions. One victim's credit cards were used for more than $3,000 in unauthorized purchases. Authorities identified the suspects as three women in their 20s. Video from an incident in Overland Park shows three women entering the store together and two of them approaching the victim while a third removed the victim's wallet from her purse.


De Soto School Board Complains About No-Bid Purchase

DE SOTO, Kan. (AP) — A Johnson County school district superintendent is coming under fire for spending almost a million dollars on wireless technology without taking bids or getting board approval. The Kansas City Star reports that the district tried to return the equipment and start over. But the manufacturer told district officials that its 30-day window for returns closed a month ago. The board was discussing the issue more Friday morning. But district spokesman Alvie Cater says officials have determined the board essentially has two options: Keep the equipment and pay for it, or don't keep the equipment and pay for it. Superintendent Doug Sumner has declined to comment on the purchase, but Cater acknowledged a "misstep." The De Soto school board requires that bids be taken if a product's cost exceeds $20,000.

Funerals Set for Mom, Child Killed in Hutchinson Fire

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Funerals are scheduled for a mother and her 11-year-old daughter who died in a house fire that Reno County authorities allege was set by the woman's son. The Hutchinson News reports the fire broke out at the family's Hutchinson home on September 26, killing the woman and her daughter. The 14-year-old suspect's father was also injured in the fire. The funerals are scheduled for Friday morning, with burials later Friday in McPherson. The family issued a statement asking for privacy as they "go through this time of unspeakable pain and heartbreak." Reno County Prosecutor Keith Schroeder filed a motion this week seeking to charge the 14-year-old as an adult on charges of first-degree murder of his mother and 11-year-old sister and attempted murder of his father.

Driver Rolls Truck After Topeka Drive-Through Crash

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A driver has struck two vehicles in a Topeka restaurant drive-through lane before jumping a curb, hitting a tree and rolling her pickup truck. Topeka police Lieutenant Chuck Haggard says authorities are looking into the possibility that medical issues contributed to Thursday night's wreck at a McDonald's restaurant. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the driver was in her early 20s and suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The driver was the truck's sole occupant, and no other people were injured. The other two vehicles that were struck sustained minor damage.

Wichita Woman Sentenced in Fatal Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman has been sentenced to four years and eight months in prison for firing a bullet through a wall and killing a man in the next room. The Wichita Eagle reports that 36-year-old Desiree Boone was sentenced Thursday for involuntary manslaughter. She also received a one-year sentence Thursday for threatening another man with a gun. Boone had a long history of mental illness. She told a Sedgwick County jury in April that her handgun discharged accidentally in November 2011 as she and her cousin argued in a home they shared near Friends University. The bullet struck 47-year-old Earle Sullivan Jr. in the head and killed him instantly. Sullivan was helping the cousin move a table and curtains into the home when he was shot.

KS Man Sentenced for Killing Woman, Toddler

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas man has received two life sentences for killing his girlfriend before starting a fire that killed the woman's 2-year-old niece. The Kansas City Star reports that 37-year-old Curtis T. Horn will serve 40 years in prison before he is eligible for parole under the sentence imposed Thursday. Prosecutors said Horn strangled 34-year-old Brandi Johnson last February inside an apartment where she was babysitting her niece, Amiyah McClenton. He then started the fire that killed the toddler and forced apartment complex residents to flee. No one else was injured. Horn pleaded guilty in August in Wyandotte County District Court to two counts of first-degree murder.

Jury Trial Begins in Dodge City Gang Case

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Several Dodge City residents are on trial in federal court in Wichita for their alleged involvement in a street gang that's accused of drug trafficking, robbery and murder. The Wichita Eagle reports that their jury trial, which began this week, is expected to last several weeks. The defendants are charged in a 38-count indictment unsealed last year. The indictment says 23 members of the Nortenos gang promoted its drug trafficking with violence and threats. The defendants are charged under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Four of the suspects are also charged with taking part in the 2009 murder of Israel Peralta, who was shot to death when he was sitting outside on the south side of Dodge City.

KS Woman Honored for Weather Observations

MINNEAPOLIS, Kan. (AP) — The National Weather Service in Topeka says a north-central Kansas woman has submitted weather observations from her area every day for 29 years. KSAL-AM reports that the Weather Service has now rewarded Melba Bruce, of Minneapolis, with its Thomas Jefferson Award. The award is given annually to just five of the more than 11,000 people nationwide who serve as cooperative weather observers. Governor Sam Brownback and Weather Service officials traveled to the Ottawa County town on Thursday to present the award. It's the highest honor the agency bestows on its volunteer observers. As a cooperative observer, Bruce provides daily high and low temperature reports, precipitation and snowfall measurements and river measurements.

KS Aircraft Group Offers Flights on 1929 Plane

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas aircraft enthusiasts are getting a chance to experience a 1929 plane known as the "Tin Goose." The Wichita Eagle reports that a Wichita-area chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association is offering rides to the public on a Ford Tri-Motor. The plane got its nickname because of its corrugated all-metal cover. Flights will depart Friday from Jabara Airport. On Saturday and Sunday, the plane will fly out of the Newton Airport as part of its 50-year anniversary celebration. The plane's enclosed cabin had nine padded seats, making it the first all-metal, multi-engine passenger airliner. It led to the construction of the first airline terminal, the first hotel for air travelers, and the first paved runways. Henry Ford built 199 of them from 1926 to 1933 in Michigan.

KC Community College System Gets $12M Grant

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's Metropolitan Community College system is receiving $12 million in federal grants to better support students. College officials said in a release the grants come from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the funds will be used to improve remedial courses designed to catch students up and prepare them for regular coursework. Money also will be used for enhanced tutoring, expanded peer mentoring and improved advising. Nancy Russell, who heads the system's Institute for Workforce Innovation, says the intensive support systems are proven to be effective and will be of great value to students. Metropolitan Community College has five campuses in the Kansas City area, including a Business and Technology campus.

Reno County Removing Rural Bridge

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Two timber bridges in rural Reno County have been removed so far this year, and the removal of a third timber bridge is planned. The Hutchinson News reports that the removal of the Clark Road bridge is set to begin Monday, with no replacement planned. A new bridge would cost about $550,000. Earlier this year, the Longview Road bridge was removed because of damage, and the High Point Road bridge was removed after it was damaged in spring flooding. Some residents in the area of the Clark Road bridge say the bridge is part of a key rural route and should stay. But County Public Works Director David McComb says the bridge was rated in "poor" condition before the August 2013 flood, which damaged it even more.

MO High Court Asked to Rule in KC Light Rail Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An attorney for a Virginia resident pushing for light rail in Kansas City has asked the Missouri Supreme Court to force the city to place the man's latest ballot initiative before voters. Clay Chastain is a former Kansas City resident who gathered enough signatures to put a sales tax increase for light rail on the city ballot. The Kansas City Star reports the proposal sought a three-eighths-cent sales tax increase for 25 years to pay for a 22-mile light rail line, 19-mile commuter rail line and an 8-mile streetcar line. The City Council says the measure violated the Missouri Constitution by failing to provide full funding for construction. Chastain's attorney, Jeffrey Carey, on Thursday told the court the voters should be allowed to decide the issue.

Fort Hays State University to Receive $1.6M Gift

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Hays State University graduate and his wife will donate $1.6 million over the next four years to the northwest Kansas school. Peter Werth said Thursday the couple wants the gift used for education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and for the university's chemistry department. Werth is a Hays native who received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the university in 1959. He is the founder and CEO of Connecticut-based ChemWerth, which develops pharmaceutical ingredients to produce generic drugs. Werth announced the gift ahead of receiving Fort Hays State's Alumni Achievement Award.

SM West Receiver Hospitalized with Stroke

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A high school football player in suburban Kansas City has been hospitalized after having a stroke during a football game. The Kansas City Star reports the family of Shawnee Mission West senior Andre Maloney said in a statement Friday that Maloney is in intensive care after suffering a stroke during the game Thursday night. Shawnee Mission West football coach Tim Callaghan says Maloney was on the sideline when he became dizzy and "lost functioning" after scoring a 63-yard touchdown reception during Shawnee Mission West's 37-34 loss against Leavenworth. Shawnee Mission West athletic director Don Perkins says Maloney was "pretty much untouched" during the play. Maloney was taken off the field in an ambulance. Maloney, who starts at wide receiver and cornerback, has verbally committed to play football at Kansas.


Harvick Qualifies on Pole for Cup Race at Kansas Speedway

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kevin Harvick turned the fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway, and will sit on the pole for the first time since the 2006 season. Harvick, who is tied for fourth in points, negotiated brutal crosswinds entering Turn 3 that ruined several good qualifying runs to post a lap of 187.526 mph on Friday. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was second-fastest at 187.480 mph, followed by Jimmie Johnson with a lap of 187.162 mph. Harvick was fastest in practice earlier in the day, and his first pole since September 17, 2006, gives him the first pit stall for Sunday's race. That could prove especially important at a place where track position is of the utmost importance. Points leader Matt Kenseth qualified seventh.


Wichita Sub's Preliminary Hearing Pushed Back

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A hearing has been pushed back that will determine whether there's enough evidence to try a Wichita substitute teacher on child sex charges. The Wichita Eagle reports that the preliminary hearing for Jarrod Alan Acquistapace has been moved to October 16. The 31-year-old is jailed in Sedgwick County Jail on charges that he unlawfully engaged in sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl in August. Bond is set at $150,000. His public defender didn't immediately return a phone call. Acquistapace became part of the Wichita school district's substitute database in September 2011. He was removed from the database this week, although he hadn't worked as a substitute in the district this school year. District spokeswoman Susan Arensman said in an email that Acquistapace had undergone a background check.


Man Making Cross-Country Walk with Goat

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A man walking across the country with a goat to raise money for a Kenyan charity is hitting the halfway point of his journey. The Salina Journal reports that Steve Wescott set off on in May from the Space Needle in Seattle. Now, he's crossing through Kansas with his pack goat as he makes his way toward Times Square in New York City. His primary goal is to raise $200,000 to help a longtime friend build an orphanage in Kenya. Wescott says he's made friends and been treated to kindness along the way. As he walked Thursday along the shoulder of Kansas 140 between Salina and Brookville, a driver pulled over to give him a bottle of water, a can of tea and a couple of granola bars.

MN Man Convicted of Human Trafficking

OAKLEY, Kan. (AP) — A jury in western Kansas has convicted a 27-year-old Minnesota man on charges related to human trafficking. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office says in a release that a Logan County jury on Thursday convicted Preston Sanders of St. Paul, Minnesota of transporting a person under 18 knowing that person would be used for sex. He also was found guilty of transporting an open container of alcohol, furnishing alcohol to a minor and driving on a suspended license. Schmidt's office says Sanders was arrested after a traffic stop on Interstate 70 and an investigation that involved the Logan County Sheriff's Office, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas Highway Patrol. Sentencing is scheduled for December 5.

Bowyer Finding Some Peace as He Returns to Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ To some, Clint Bowyer has become a pariah. To those in Kansas, he's still one of their own. The native of Emporia, Kansas insists his spin at Richmond that set off a chain of events that rattled NASCAR to its core was unintentional. NASCAR failed to prove that Bowyer was attempting to manipulate the finish to get teammate Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase for the championship. But the fallout from Richmond still resulted in harsh sanctions against his Michael Waltrip Racing organization that included knocking Truex out of the Chase. In the eyes of some, the whole situation turned Bowyer from one of the most popular drivers in the series to one worthy of contempt. Not at Kansas, though, where he's still as popular as ever.



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