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Regional Headlines for Friday, September 14, 2012



UPDATE: Kansas Man Drops Challenge to Inclusion of President Obama on State Ballot 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man says he's dropping his objection to President Barack Obama being listed on the state's November ballot. Manhattan resident Joe Montgomery told the secretary of state's office by email Friday that he and people around him have faced what he called "animosity" over his challenge to President Obama's inclusion on the ballot. Montgomery's plans to drop his objection were first reported Friday by The Manhattan Mercury. Montgomery argues Obama is not eligible to serve as president. The State Objections Board reviewed Montgomery's arguments Thursday but postponed a decision, saying it needed more information. The board is made up of the secretary of state, the attorney general and the lieutenant governor. It wasn't immediately clear whether the board would convene again Monday as planned.


UPDATE: Man in Custody Following Explosives Search in Downtown KC  

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities closed off parts of downtown Kansas City out of caution after a man entered the federal government building and asked whether he was on the government's terrorist watch list. The outburst prompted police to take him into custody Friday and authorities used a remote-controlled robot to search his car. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton says no threatening items were found. Several blocks around the building were closed off to traffic, and federal workers were sent home early. A federal law enforcement source earlier told The Associated Press that the man entered the building and said something about being on the government's terrorist watch list, but his exact words were not clear. Patton said the man made no threat, but was being retained for questioning Friday evening.

Kansas Counties Try to Recoup Losses from DMV System Problems

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state will reimburse Kansas counties for some of the costs incurred after a new motor vehicle registration system was installed, but county officials say more needs to be done. The program caused long delays and lines at motor vehicle offices across the state after it was introduced in May. During a legislative hearing Thursday, Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said the state will reimburse counties a total of $561,000 to defray the unexpected expenses. And Governor Sam Brownback plans to create a task force to examine how to improve the system. Jordan says the problems have eased. But some county officials disagree, and they are considering a new $2 fee to help pay the costs, most of which came from overtime and new employees hired to handle the backlog.


Appeals Court Upholds Kansas Judicial Nominee Selection Method 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected a legal challenge to the way Kansas selects judicial nominees to its Supreme Court. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday the constitutional amendment that created a nominating commission more than a half century ago is a testament to the state's commitment to judicial independence. Their ruling comes in a lawsuit challenging the lawyer-dominated commission that forwards judicial nominees to the governor. Those judges face a popular election after serving for at least a year. The court said the state designed the commission to limit the influence of politics on the nomination process and ensure the quality of judicial nominees. It noted voters adopted the merit selection system as a compromise between an appointment process and an elective process.


Company Fined for Water Violations at Fort Riley

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A military management company will pay a $24,900 civil penalty for improperly disposing of raw sewage at Fort Riley. The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that Picerne Military Management will pay the fine to settle violations of federal clean water laws. The EPA says Picerne pumped between 5,000 to 9,000 gallons of raw sewage from a crawl space under a townhome into a storm drain. Over two days in December 2011, the sewage went through the drainage system and discharged into a tributary of the Republican River. Picerne Military Management owns and/or operates about 20,000 housing units on seven Army posts, including Fort Riley. A public comment period is required before the consent agreement becomes final.


Kansas to Use $2M from Feds for Trails Program

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State officials plan to spend $2 million in federal transportation funds to enhance recreational trails in Kansas, clarifying an earlier decision to opt out of a provision of the federal program. The funding was announced Friday. It comes just days after the Kansas Department of Transportation said it would opt out of a provision of the federal highway funding law that gives states money to develop trails. KDOT spokesman Steve Swartz says the agency never intended to abandon the trails system. By opting out of the federal program the state would still receive funds, but it Kansas officials would be able use part of the money for other needs. Swartz said KDOT will send all of the money to the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for use on trails.

Kansas Agency Hosting Safe School Conference

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Division of Emergency Management and other state agencies are holding a conference later this month on school safety and preparedness. About 300 people are expected at the fifth annual Kansas Safe and Prepared Schools Conference, taking place September 24 and 25 in Topeka. The conference is designed for educators, administrators, first responders and emergency management personnel. Topics include natural disasters, suicide prevention, bullying, youth sports concussions and reducing sexual and domestic violence. Lessons from the tornadoes that struck Harveyville, Kansas and Joplin, Missouri are also on the agenda.


1 Dead in Shooting at KC Sports Complex Lot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating a fatal shooting at the Truman Sports Complex as an attempted murder-suicide. Officers were called to a parking area between Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium around 3:30 pm Friday. Police said a woman was taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds, and a man died of a self-inflicted wound. The Kansas City Royals said Friday night's game with the Anaheim Angels would be played as scheduled. One gate and one parking area were closed. There was no word on what led up to the shooting.


Life Sentence Affirmed for Wichita Man

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has affirmed the felony murder conviction and life sentence of a Wichita man convicted twice for killing a Cuban immigrant. Terral Breedlove was first convicted of murder in 1997 for shooting 68-year-old Cuban immigrant Rigoberto Garcia in Wichita. Prosecutors say Breedlove shot Garcia and stole his car. Breedlove was 17 in 1995 when he shot Garcia, who was a month away from becoming a U.S. citizen. The Wichita Eagle reports Breedlove's first conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2008 because he should have been charged in juvenile court. In 2009, Breedlove was found guilty again by a Sedgwick County jury. He appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which on Friday unanimously affirmed the conviction.


Court Tosses Prison Sentences in Kansas Hunting Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has overturned the prison sentences of Texas brothers who ran a camp in Kansas where hunters paid thousands of dollars to illegally shoot deer.The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday the district court made a mistake in sentencing James and Marlin Butler, who ran Camp Lone Star near Coldwater. The court said the value of the wildlife at the camp should not have been based on the full price of a guided hunt, but on the actual value of the animals involved. Camp owner James Butler Jr. was sentenced to 41 months in prison. His brother, Marlin, who worked as a guide, was sentenced to 27 months in prison. The brothers are both from Martinsville, Texas.

Appeals Court Sets Hearing in Kansas Doctor's Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court has set the date for arguments on behalf of a Kansas doctor and his wife convicted in a moneymaking conspiracy linked to 68 overdose deaths. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday scheduled a hearing November 7 in the case of Stephen and Linda Schneider, who ran a pain clinic. They were convicted in 2010 of conspiracy, unlawfully prescribing drugs, health care fraud and money laundering. Stephen Schneider was sentenced to 30 years, and his wife to 33 years. New lawyers for the Haysville couple contend the Schneiders' trial attorneys were little more than "mouthpieces" for a patient advocate who used the case to promote her own agenda. The government says the Schneiders got a fair trial with the attorneys they wanted.

Lawyers: 'Pink Slime' Lawsuit an Uphill Climb

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Legal experts say a South Dakota beef processor that is suing ABC News for defamation faces a steep climb for a victory in court. Beef Products Incorporated sued ABC News for defamation Thursday over its coverage of a meat product that critics dub "pink slime." The company alleges that the network created an inaccurate impression that the product is unsafe. The lawsuit seeks damages under South Dakota's defamation law, as well as a 1994 state law that allows businesses to sue anyone who knowingly spreads false information about a food product. A company lawyer says BPI will seek $1.2 billion in damages. Drake University law professor Neil Hamilton says BPI may struggle to convince a jury that the news stories were defamatory or that harm was intended.

12-Year-Old Kansas Boy Held on Rape Charges

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — A 12-year-old northeast Kansas boy has been charged with sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl. Brown County Attorney Kevin Hill said Friday the Hiawatha boy faces two counts of rape and two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy. Hill told The Topeka Capital Journal he filed charges last week on the same day he received reports from the sheriff's office and state social service officials. A phone message for the boy's attorney, Judd Herbster, was not immediately returned. The boy remained in custody. Hill said he had no immediate plant to seek to try the boy as an adult. However, he has until an October adjudication hearing to make a decision. The alleged assault occurred last month. Hill said the children aren't related, but he declined to say how they knew each other. 


Haskell University Responds to NAIA Probation Ruling

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Haskell Indian Nations University says "corrective actions" have been taken to address problems that led to all of its athletic programs being placed on probation through 2014. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has said only that the sanctions stemmed from "violations involving ineligible players." Haskell president James Redman said in a statement Thursday that the school has improved its oversight. In May, the university announced federal and internal investigations into claims that two student-athletes had falsified ACT scores. The school said at the time that the investigations found that three other students' transcripts were manipulated. Haskell spokesman Stephen Prue says the NAIA's decision to place the school on probation resulted from two of those cases. He says some men's basketball and football games will be forfeited.

Kansas State Fair Enters Final Weekend

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Fair is entering its final weekend. Country star Billy Currington will take the stage Saturday night for the final grandstand musical performance. And Sunday's grandstand entertainment is a truck and tractor pull. Weekend fairgoers also will be treated to an exotic animal petting zoo, milking demonstrations, pig races, horse shows, a chainsaw woodcarver and juggling performances. This year saw admission prices increase for the first time in four years, with a regular adult ticket going from $8 to $10. Fair officials have said expenses have increased.

60-Barn Hog Farm Planned for Greeley County

TRIBUNE, Kan. (AP) — A large hog farm near Tribune in Greeley County is scheduled to begin operations in early October. The business will have 60 barns when it opens but has permits for 120 barns, with each barn housing 1,000 hogs. It is owned by Seaboard Foods. David Eaheart, marketing director for Seaboard, says the company began stocking the barns several weeks ago and will stock the final barn in the first week of October. He says 10 to 12 people will be hired at the farm. He says the Greeley County operation will house hogs before they are sent to a Guymon, Oklahoma plant for processing. The Garden City Telegram reports Greeley County residents approved allowing major hog farms in the county in December 2010.

Construction Underway on Wichita Airport Terminal

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — After 11 years of discussion, Wichita has begun construction on a third terminal at Mid-Continent Airport. The $101.5 million Air Capital Terminal 3, or ACT 3 will be a two-floor, state-of-the-art terminal. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and airport officials said at a ceremony Thursday that the new terminal is a key part of plans to improve the city's economy. The Wichita Eagle reports the terminal is scheduled to be completed by early 2015. It will be funded by airport user fees and a $53 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The terminal will be able to handle 2 million passengers annually at 12 gates, with expansion possible to 16 gates. Each gate will be able to accommodate a range of aircraft, from smaller jets up to 757s.


Kansas Trade Delegation Heads to China, South Korea

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman will be leading a delegation of Kansas officials on a trade mission to China and South Korea. Rodman will head the 18-member group that leaves Saturday for 10 days to Asia. Others on the trip will be farmers, ranchers and agribusiness leaders from across Kansas. During their trip, the delegation will meet with existing trade partners who purchase Kansas products, as well as with potential new buyers for livestock and grain products. The delegation will also tour importing and processing facilities. The delegation will be visiting Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai. The United States entered a free-trade agreement in March and Kansas representatives are looking to explore ways to expand markets. Agriculture exports to South Korea topped $125 million in 2011.

Murder Charge Dismissed in Kansas Toddler's Death

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — A southeastern Kansas judge has dismissed a first-degree murder charge against a man accused of killing his girlfriend's 18-month-old daughter. KAKE-TV reports a Butler County judge on Thursday threw out the charge against Justin Edwards, of El Dorado. Judge David Ricke ruled the state failed to provide sufficient evidence of the cause of death, but prosecutors may refile the charge if the state can produce the evidence. Edwards and his girlfriend, Alyssa Haag, were both charged with killing Haag's daughter, Jayla, in March of this year. The baby died at a Wichita hospital. A coroner says Jayla had extensive injuries from abuse, including six missing teeth. Alyssa Haag is also charged with first-degree murder and faces trial next month. She is currently out on bond.

Plane Intercepted by F-16s in Denver No-Fly Zone

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A single-engine plane that entered a temporary no-fly zone in the Denver area has landed without incident after the military scrambled two F-16s to intercept it. The plane was intercepted after President Barack Obama spoke in Golden, Colorado around 11 am Thursday but before he flew out of Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora a few hours later. North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, says the plane was out of radio communications around 12:30 p.m. Thursday when Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson says the plane flew near Buckley, Colorado. Robinson says the F-16s escorted the plane to Centennial Airport south of Denver, where authorities determined the pilot made an honest mistake. Robinson says the pilot regularly flies from Wyoming to Colorado and somehow missed the notice on restricted air space.


Kansas Man Gets 15 Years for Driving Drunk in Missouri

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man with eight drunken driving convictions has been sentenced to 15 years in a Missouri prison under a law that allows longer sentences for chronic offenders. Platte County (Missouri) prosecutor Eric Zahnd says 51-year-old Ricky Stroble of Kansas City, Kansas was sentenced Thursday for driving drunk in June 2010 on Interstate 635 in Platte County. Stroble pleaded guilty in March 2011 but failed to show up for sentencing on what was his seventh drunken driving conviction. In February he was arrested in Johnson County, Kansas for driving while intoxicated again, and was later convicted. Zahnd says Kansas law has a one-year cap on prison sentences for drunken driving. Missouri lawmakers passed the stiffer penalties in August 2010 because of the danger repeat drunken drivers pose to the public.

Crop Insurance Losses Begin to Mount Amid Drought

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Thousands of U.S. farmers are filing crop insurance claims this year as drought and triple-digit temperatures burn up crops in the Corn Belt. The final cost to the taxpayer-subsidized program has yet to be determined, but Kansas State University is forecasting underwriting losses at nearly $15 billion. That figure is based on anticipated claims totaling $25 billion. Extension specialist G.A. Barnaby says the Agriculture Department's Risk Management Agency cut premiums for corn and soybeans in many states, expecting new technologies to eliminate or reduce big losses. More than $1.42 billion in insurance claims have been paid so far, with the bulk still to come. Texas is leading the nation with $518.6 million in claims, followed by Kansas with $223 million. Colorado is third with $66 million.

Kansas Board Upholds Ex-Lawmaker's Spot on Ballot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Kansas officials are letting a former state lawmaker remain on the ballot as he seeks to return to the House, rejecting a claim that he doesn't live in his district. The State Objections Board ruled Thursday for former House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, of Wichita. Sawyer is the Democratic nominee in the 95th House District. A tea party leader had objected to Sawyer's candidacy. The objections board is made up of the secretary of state, attorney general and lieutenant governor. Kansans for Liberty President Craig Gabel questioned whether Sawyer lived at the address he listed in filing for office. But Sawyer owns the property and has been registered to vote there since 1993. Sawyer, who also ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1998, faces freshman Republican Rep. Bennie Boman in November.

Remains in Northwest Missouri Grave to Be Exhumed

KEARNEY, Mo. (AP) — The remains buried in a northwest Missouri grave will be exhumed to determine if they belong to a 19th century outlaw. A Clay County judge granted permission Thursday for researchers to exhume remains buried in the Muddy Fork Cemetery in Kearney. Researchers are trying to determine if the remains are Clell Miller, a Confederate bushwacker who was an outlaw with Jesse James. The Missouri native was killed in 1876 in Northfield, Minnesota. The Kansas City Star reports his family long believed he was buried in the Kearney cemetery. But the man who shot Miller to death claimed he kept the skeleton to use during medical studies. In April, Miller's relatives and a group of forensic researchers asked for permission to exhume the body to solve the mystery.


Kansas Board Delays Decision on Obama, Ballot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials want more information before deciding whether to remove President Barack Obama from the state's November ballot. The State Objections Board heard arguments Thursday on a claim from a Manhattan, Kan., resident that Obama is not eligible to be president because his father was from Kenya. The resident, Joe Montgomery, also questions whether Obama has a valid birth certificate. The president released a copy of his long-form birth certificate last year, and Hawaii officials have verified his citizenship repeatedly. But the Kansas board — made up of the secretary of state, attorney general and lieutenant governor — said Thursday it wants certified documents from Hawaii and two other states where similar questions about Obama's citizenship have been raised. The board plans to meet again Monday and may rule then.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 


Bomb Threat at Government Building in Downtown KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A suspicious vehicle is being investigated in downtown Kansas City after police said a man walked into a government building and said he was a terrorist. Kansas City police sent a robot to investigate the man's car Friday after a bomb-sniffing dog detected some sort of explosive in the vehicle. The vehicle was parked on a street between the Richard Bolling Federal Building and the Fletcher Daniels State Office Building. It wasn't immediately clear which building the man had entered around noon Friday. KSHB-TV in Kansas City reports that the man entered the Richard Bolling Federal Building, 600 E. 12th St. Traffic in Kansas City is being affected: the exit from Interstate 70 to 13th Street has been closed, and 12th and 13th streets between Cherry and Charlotte have been blocked. Northbound Locust Street is closed from Truman Road to 12th Street. 

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 


UPDATE: Robot on Site of Bomb Threat at Government Building in Downtown KC 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A suspicious vehicle is being investigated in downtown Kansas City after police said a man walked into a government building and said he was a terrorist. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said the agency was supporting police Friday after a bomb-sniffing dog detected some sort of explosive in the man's vehicle. Patton said she couldn't give any more details. The vehicle was parked in a spot reserved for the handicapped near the Fletcher Daniels State Office building and the Richard Bolling Federal Building, a towering structure housing numerous government agencies. Television helicopters showed a police robot opening the vehicle's trunk about 2:15 pm, but it was not immediately clear what was inside. It also wasn't clear which building the man had entered around noon Friday. Traffic in Kansas City is being affected by the incident: the exit from Interstate 70 to 13th Street has been closed, and 12th and 13th streets between Cherry and Charlotte have been blocked. Northbound Locust Street is closed from Truman Road to 12th Street. 

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 


UPDATE: Investigation Yields No Explosives at Site of KC Bomb Threat 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities used a remote-control robot to scan the contents of a suspicious vehicle near downtown Kansas City government office buildings Friday after a man walked into one of them and said he was a terrorist. A federal law enforcement source told The Associated Press that no explosives were found on the man or in his car, but police did find a gun in the vehicle. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation. The man was taken into custody and officers sent a bomb-sniffing dog to the man's vehicle. The dog detected some sort of explosive in the car. The robot pried the trunk open and pulled out what appeared to be a tarp and a spare tire.

**this story has been updated. Please see above.

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