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Regional Headlines for Friday, September 27, 2013


Kansas Seeks Federal Aid for Summer Storm Damage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is seeking a federal disaster declaration for 47 of the state's 105 counties to help residents and local governments recover from a string of severe storms and flooding. The Kansas Division of Emergency Management said Friday that Brownback sent the letter to President Barack Obama through the Kansas City, Missouri regional office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A series of storms hit Kansas between July 22 and August 16, producing significant damage from high winds and flooding. The storms were blamed on four deaths. Brownback said in his letter that some of the areas received as much as 500 percent of their normal rainfall total for that time of year, resulting in many roads, bridges and other infrastructure being damaged.


KS Insurance Commish Plans More Meetings on Health Overhaul

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger is planning five more town hall meetings in October to discuss the federal health care overhaul. Praeger has had nine sessions this month. She plans two more in Topeka on Monday, one day before the opening of an online health insurance marketplace for Kansas. The marketplace is being run by the federal government under its 2010 health care law. Praeger's additional meetings are set for October 2 in Independence; October 3 in Emporia; October 16 in Garden City; October 17 in Liberal; and October 22 in Kansas City, Kansas. Enrollment in plans offered by the online marketplace runs through March 2014, and many consumers are eligible for federal subsidies.


Former Kansas Lawmaker Found Dead in Nebraska

WAVERLY, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska authorities are investigating the death of a former Kansas lawmaker and athletics official whose body was found beneath a riding lawn mower. The Lincoln Journal Star reported Friday that relatives found the body of 66-year-old Ricky Bowden in a building on his property north of Waverly, Nebraska. Sheriff Terry Wagner says it appears a plastic toolbox blew off a shelf and onto the mower, causing it to fall on Bowden, who was working beneath the equipment. Relatives found Bowden after checking on why he hadn't returned for dinner. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Bowden served for 18 years as assistant executive director for the Kansas State High School Activities Association before retiring in 2011. He also served from 1985 to 1993 as a member of the Kansas Legislature.


Northeast Kansas Man Charged with Murder over 2012 Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 40-year-old Topeka man has been charged with first-degree murder over the January 2012 shooting of a local developer described as a friend and business partner. Monroe E. Lockhart also faces a felony arson charge in a complaint filed Friday in Shawnee County District Court by District Attorney Chad Taylor. Lockhart already is in custody after being convicted earlier this year of multiple charges for a November 2011 home invasion and the burning of a woman with a heated knife blade. The new case involves the death of Corey Michael Brown. Family members previously told The Topeka Capital-Journal the two were good friends and partners. Authorities provided few details about the crime. Taylor said the arson charge alleges Lockhart destroyed his car to get insurance money.


Lawsuit Filed in Kansas to Block Science Standards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An anti-evolution group has filed a federal lawsuit to block Kansas from using new, multistate science standards in its public schools Citizens for Objective Public Education argued in the lawsuit filed Thursday that the standards promote atheism and violate students' and parents' religious freedoms. The group had criticized the standards developed by Kansas and 25 other states for treating both evolution and climate change as key scientific concepts to be taught from kindergarten through 12th grade. The Kansas State Board of Education adopted them in June. The case is the latest chapter in a long-running debate in Kansas over what to teach students about evolution. The lawsuit argues the new standards will cause Kansas public schools to promote what it calls a "non-theistic religious worldview."

Enrollment Down at Kansas Regents Schools

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents is reporting a system-wide drop in fall enrollment. The Board of Regents says preliminary fall enrollments are down overall from last year about 1.3 percent, which is about 2,504 students across the state's 32 public universities, community colleges and technical colleges. The regents say enrollment is up at the state's technical colleges, where about 472 more students are enrolled this fall compared to the preliminary count in 2012. Enrollment was nearly flat at the seven public universities, and was down about 3,000 students in the state's 19 community colleges. The University of Kansas reports fall enrollment down about .55 percent, while fall enrollment is up about .83 percent at Kansas State University. Emporia State reports a 2.83 percent enrollment increase.

Topeka Library Gets $200K Grant for Bookmobile

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is getting a $200,000 grant to buy a new bookmobile. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the new bookmobile will be on the streets in May, thanks to a donation from the Capitol Federal Foundation. The donation pays for most of the $253,440 cost of the bookmobile. The 37-foot-long bookmobile will be stocked with a brand-new inventory of books, movies, music and magazines. It will replace one of the library's two older bookmobiles. A second bookmobile is expected to arrive in 2015, and the library is also working on a proposal to buy a third bookmobile. Bookmobiles have been a part of the Topeka library for 70 years and account for about 15 percent of the library's total circulation.


UPDATE: Kansas Teen Charged in Fatal House Fire

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 14-year-old Hutchinson boy has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with a house fire that killed his mother and 11-year-old sister. Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder charged the boy Friday as a juvenile but says he'll seek to try the teen as an adult. Schroeder told The Wichita Eagle that the boy was not at the house when the fire broke out early Thursday but returned several hours later. Authorities had said they suspected arson in the blaze that engulfed the two-story house. Schroeder says an accelerant was poured in several first-floor rooms. The mother and sister were found in an upstairs bedroom and died later. The boy is also charged with the attempted murder of his father, who escaped the fire without injury.


KC Police Investigate Possible Murder-Suicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say the deaths of two people appear to be a murder-suicide. Police say they were called to a Kansas City home Thursday night after neighbors heard gunshots. They found a man and a woman dead, both with gunshot wounds. The woman was in her early 20s and the man was approximately 30. Their identities have not been released.

Restaurant Manager Charged in Immigration Case

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — The manager of an eastern Kansas restaurant has been charged with harboring immigrant workers who were unlawfully in the United States. Alex Sanchez Jr., manager of El Mezcal Mexican Restaurant in Ottawa, is named in a nine-count federal indictment returned Wednesday. The charges allege Sanchez paid immigrant workers in cash, failed to maintain employment records for them and encouraged them to live in the U.S. for his own financial gain. He's also accused of providing housing for the immigrant workers in Ottawa. The indictment accuses Sanchez of continuing to employ people he knew were in the country illegally despite being fined and ordered in 2011 to cease the alleged violations. No phone number for Sanchez could be found, and the restaurant's phone has been disconnected. The government is seeking forfeiture judgment.


Military High Court to Hear Kansas HIV Exposure Case 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The highest court for the U.S. armed forces has agreed to hear the appeal of a Kansas airman convicted of assault for exposing multiple sex partners to HIV at swinger parties in Wichita. The attorney for David Gutierrez said Friday the case will set the standard across the military as to what evidence is necessary to prove someone can cause "grievous bodily harm" after testing positive for HIV. The court in an order Tuesday also agreed to decide whether the airman committed adultery since his wife also joined in the sex parties. Gutierrez was a sergeant serving at McConnell Air Force base when he was sentenced in 2011 to eight years in prison and stripped of his rank. He was convicted of aggravated assault among other charges.


Conservatives Gather in MO for Midwestern Conference

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) — Conservative activists from across the Midwest are gathering this weekend in suburban St. Louis for a pep rally of sorts. The Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday is to feature dozens of speeches and panel discussions on topics such as tax cuts and immigration law changes. Headlining speakers include Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who both ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. Others on the agenda include Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and U.S. Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Lee of Utah. The event in St. Charles is sponsored by The American Conservative Union. It's the only regional CPAC gathering of the year. The group held a national conference in March in the Washington, D.C., area.

GM Foundation Donates $100K to KC-Area Nonprofits

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The General Motors Foundation has given eight Kansas City area community organizations a total of $100,000 in grants. The Kansas City Star reports that management and union leaders announced the grants during an event at GM's Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas. The recipients are located in Kansas and Missouri. The donations will go to the American Cancer Society; Blue River Watershed; Communities in Schools, Kansas; Harvesters Community Food Bank; Kansas City, Kansas School Foundation for Excellence; Heart of America Stand Down; Make-A-Wish Foundation, Kansas; and United Way. The foundation says it's providing about $1.6 million in funding this year to about 200 organizations in 45 cities where GM operates plants and employees live and work.

Washburn University Celebrates Namesake's 215th Birthday

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Washburn University is celebrating the 215th birthday of its namesake and mascot Saturday at the Memorial Union. The Topeka school started in 1865 as Lincoln College but changed its name three years later after receiving $25,000 from Ichabod Washburn. He developed a machine and technique that made wire stronger and easier to produce. The company he and his son-in-law ran was the primary domestic producer of piano wire and the crinoline wire used in hoop skirts. As an abolitionist, Washburn liked what the fledging Kansas school was doing. The school included men, women and an African-American in its first enrolled class. The college also offered scholarships to honorably discharged Union soldiers among others. Washburn lived in Massachusetts and died before getting a chance to visit the campus.

Kansas Growers to Pay More for Wheat Check-Off

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas growers will soon be paying more for the wheat "check-off" program that supports research and market development. The Kansas Wheat Commission announced Thursday that its board has approved a check-off increase to 2 cents per bushel from the current 1.5 cents per bushel, effective November 1. Commission chairman Ron Suppes says that shrinking government research funding — combined with fewer wheat acres and smaller crops — make it more vital than ever for farmers to invest in their industry. The new Kansas Wheat Innovation Center that opened last December is a $10.3 million research facility that is expected to create new wheat varieties. The industry group says the check-off increase will help pay down debt on the building and fund research at the center.

Kansas Governor Uses River Trip to Push Tourism

WAMEGO, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is hoping that construction of new boat ramps along the Kansas River will draw more people to the waterway and increase its recreational use. Brownback led more than 100 people in canoes and kayaks Thursday on a roughly eight-mile float trip. The paddlers set out at midmorning from Wamego and finished about four hours later at Belvue, where a new boat ramp was dedicated. Pausing on a sandbar, Brownback said Kansans who know the state will be the best salesmen for encouraging more people to use the Kansas River for recreation. The river stretches 173 miles from Junction City to the Missouri border. Last year, the U.S. Interior Department designated it a National Water Trail, one of about a dozen around the country.


KCMO Statehouse Member Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Charges

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri House member has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Democrat Jeremy LaFaver of Kansas City, Missouri entered the pleas during a brief court hearing Friday in Boone County. He was fined $200 plus court costs on each charge and paid the penalties before leaving the courthouse. The 33-year-old lawmaker says he made a mistake and is glad the incident is behind him. A state trooper stopped LaFaver last month on Interstate 70 in Boone County for failing to respond to charges in Moniteau County of driving with expired license plates. The trooper reported finding a glass pipe and a small amount of marijuana in the vehicle. LaFaver paid a $125 fine in Moniteau County for the vehicle registration charge earlier this week.


Autism Researchers to Speak at JCCC Conference

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Two pioneering researchers in the field of autism are scheduled to speak next month at a two-day conference on the disorder at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park. Robert Koegel and Lynn Kern Koegel will make their presentation at noon on October 18 during the conference, titled "Beyond the Diagnosis: Autism Across the Lifespan." The college says the Koegels developed a treatment at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that targets core features of autism to produce rapid and widespread gains in social, communicative and behavioral areas. The conference takes place October 18 and 19, and is co-sponsored by the community college and the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training at the University of Kansas.


Elderly Couple Killed in Overland Park Car Crash

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A married couple in their 80s has died in a two-vehicle crash in Overland Park. The Kansas City Star reports that the 86-year-old man and his 80-year-old wife died Thursday when their vehicle collided with another car that ran a stop sign. Overland Park police identified the victims as Norman J. Russell and Norma F. Russell. Police say the driver of the other car was not injured, but a passenger in his car had minor injuries.


Missouri Man Gets Life Sentence for Robbing 2 Banks

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 40-year-old man with a history of robbing banks in Kansas and Missouri has been sentenced to life in prison for two holdups he was convicted of committing last year. The U.S. Attorney's office says Eddie Prince Roberts, of Columbia, won't be eligible for parole under the sentence he received Friday in federal court. Roberts was convicted earlier of robbing Boone County National Bank in Columbia of more than $4,400 in April 2012, and Landmark Bank in Columbia of roughly $8,200 the following month. He was arrested after the Landmark robbery following a foot chase in which he fought with an officer and was shot during the encounter. Roberts was convicted in 1993 of robbing five banks in Kansas. He was also convicted of robbing a Missouri bank in 2000.

KU Institute Gets Tyrannosaurus Rex Bones

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Paleontologists at the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Kansas are getting a chance to study the bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex. 6News Lawrence reports that the dinosaur's fossils came from a collections museum in St. Louis, which decided it could not keep the collection. State paleontologist David Burnham says it's unclear what age the dinosaur was when it died but that it isn't believed to have been full grown. To determine the age, Kansas paleontologists will search for more remains where the fossil was found in Jordan, Mont. Burnham says the bones also will go on display at the university's natural history museum.

KU Med Center Gets $3 Million for Alzheimer's Disease Study

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Medical Center is planning a $3 million project to study the role of exercise in preventing Alzheimer's disease. The study will be funded by the National Institutes of Health. The medical center is looking for 100 healthy people 65 or older to participate in the trial. Participants who are at a higher risk for Alzheimer's disease will walk on a treadmill regularly for one year. They will then undergo brain scans to determine if the exercise is reducing the risk of getting Alzheimer's.

Wichita State Hopes to Attract More Online Students

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State says it's working to improve the university's online learning, with a goal of increasing the number of online students. The university announced in a news release Thursday that it had established the Office of Online Learning and named an interim director. The university's new vice president for academic affairs, Tony Vizzini, says for many degree programs, no adequate online substitute is available for students working with instructors at a research university. He says improved online learning could help students and the university. The Wichita Eagle reports that  president John Bardo has said he intends to establish some full degree online programs soon. He also wants the university to attract more students who are 24 or older, and online education is one way to do that.

Memorial Scheduled for Civil War Soldier

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Seattle woman plans to attend a weekend ceremony at the grave of her great grandfather, who escaped slavery and fought in the Civil War. Janice Lovelace told The Hutchinson News that her great grandfather John Crooms is buried at Eastside Cemetery. But his gravesite didn't have a headstone until recently. Lovelace says she contacted the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War to see if they could help. By Memorial Day, the organization had a headstone in place for Crooms' grave. On Saturday, Lovelace will be in Hutchinson as the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War pay homage to Crooms, who died in Hutchinson on July 3, 1922. The poem "When the Boys in Blue Are Gone" will be read at the ceremony.

Many Protestants Testify for Kapaun Sainthood

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Non-Catholics have been supplying much of the crucial testimony about the Korean War heroics of Emil Kapaun, a Catholic priest from Kansas who's being considered for sainthood. Most of Kapaun's former prisoner-of-war friends are Protestants, and another is a lapsed Catholic who left the Catholic church years ago. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Vatican is sending one of its top sainthood investigators to Wichita this weekend to examine more evidence the church says could solidify Kapaun's candidacy for sainthood. Kapaun, a native of Pilsen in Marion County, died in a North Korean prison camp in 1951. The former POWs tell investigators that Kapaun was killed by the guards not only for rallying them to resist communist brainwashing but for defying camp guards who banned all religious activities.

3 Charged in Death of Man Found in Missouri River

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A northwest Missouri prosecutor has charged three people in the death of a 38-year-old man whose body was discovered in the Missouri River near Leavenworth, Kansas. Nebraska Game and Park employees who were tracking sturgeon found the body of St. Joseph resident Jason Davies on September 19th. KQTV reports the Buchanan County (Missouri) prosecutor on Thursday charged 39-year-old Robert Jarrell and 48-year-old Martin Rilinger with second-degree murder. Thirty-nine-year-old Dollie Williams is charged with tampering with evidence, accused of cleaning up blood from the crime scene. Court records list a St. Joseph apartment for all three defendants, who did not have lawyers Thursday. Police say in court documents that Davies was hit several times with a baseball bat and a frying pan during a struggle, then dumped in the river.


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