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Regional Headlines for Monday, April 22, 2013



Analysis: Kansas Pro-Gun Law Is Political Statement

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas law taking effect this week declares that the federal government can't regulate some guns within the state, but in the short term, it's likely to remain more of a political statement than a practical curb on Washington's power. The new law says the federal government has no authority to regulate guns manufactured, sold and kept only in Kansas. Lawmakers approved the measure by wide margins. Republican Governor am Brownback signed it into law last week, and it takes effect Thursday. There's a vigorous debate over whether the new law is likely to be upheld by the federal courts. But without a legal controversy such as a confrontation between state and federal officials, the courts would have nothing to settle. Until legal disputes arise, the law remains largely symbolic.


KS Governor Signs Anti-Human Trafficking Measure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new law that is designed to strengthen efforts in Kansas to combat human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of young people has been signed by Governor Sam Brownback. The governor signed the bill Monday, saying it will provide increased criminal penalties and services for victims of sexual exploitation. The bill creates the crime of commercial sexual exploitation of a child, covering those ages 14 to 17. It also makes other modifications to Kansas human trafficking laws passed nearly a decade earlier. The bill will establish a fund that will be financed with fines and forfeiture of property from those convicted of the sex crimes. The revenue will be used to pay for treatment and services for the victims of the crimes.


Brownback Signs Bill to Create Stem Cell Research Center

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed legislation creating a new center at the state's medical school for researching potential cures using adult stem cells. The bill signed into law Monday by Brownback prohibits the new center at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City from using money or resources on research with embryonic stem cells. Instead, the aim is to make Kansas a leader in research with adult stem cells and stem cells from babies' umbilical cord blood. Abortion opponents strongly supported the bill and see such research as far more promising than research with embryonic stem cells. Critics question whether the new center will divert resources from other Medical Center programs.

Kansas Governor Wants Charity Ball to Mark Project's End

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says he's hoping Kansas will have a charity ball at the Statehouse when the building's $332 million renovation is complete. Brownback says his office is working on plans for such an event early next year, but any discussions so far are tentative. But the governor told reporters at a tree-planting on the Statehouse grounds last week that he's looking forward the end of the renovation. It began in 2001 and is supposed to be done by the end of this year. The project has included improvements to offices, meeting rooms and mechanical systems, the addition of an underground parking garage and expansion of the basement for new offices.

Roberts Poised to Become Oldest Kansas US Senator

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Pat Roberts is poised to become the oldest Kansan ever to serve in the U.S. Senate if he is re-elected next year. Roberts has served continuously in Washington for more than 32 years. The Hutchinson News reports Roberts turned 77 on Saturday and has drawn no Republican or Democratic challenger so far. His campaign announced recently it had raised more than $1 million and has secured the backing of the entire Kansas delegation in Washington. The oldest Kansan to serve in the U.S. Senate is Topeka Republican Arthur Capper, who retired in January 1949 at the age of 83. If Roberts is re-elected, he would be 84 when his term ended in January 2021. More than half of the 100 Senate members are 60 or over.

Army Picks 1st Infantry Division for Safety Award

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — The 1st Infantry Division has been honored for taking steps to improve the safety of soldiers living and training at Fort Riley and three other posts. The Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center selected the division, headquartered at Fort Riley, for the Exceptional Organization Safety Award. Division leaders tracked accidents at Fort Riley as well as Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The goal was to identify the causes and adopt measures to reduce the risks of future incidents, including vehicle and motorcycle accidents. Fort Riley safety manager Richard Hearron said soldiers were encouraged to report incidents of unsafe behavior to their superiors.


Report: Warm Temps Needed to Assess Wheat Damage

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says warmer temperatures are needed before Kansas farmers can assess the freeze damage to their winter wheat crop. Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that more than half the state's wheat acres had no freeze damage. But the agency also says growers in the western third of Kansas are still evaluating the impact of freezing temperatures. The weekly snapshot shows 43 percent of the winter wheat has now jointed. That's well behind the 96 percent of a year ago and the late-April average of 63 percent. Overall, the agency pegged the condition of this year's wheat crop as 37 percent poor to very poor. It estimated that 33 percent was in fair shape, with 27 percent rated as good and 3 percent as excellent.


Rain Halts Early Corn Planting in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Several days of rain have been a mixed blessing for Kansas farmers and ranchers. Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service said Monday the past week's rain halted early corn planting in eastern sections. Corn planting is only 5 percent complete statewide, far behind the late-April average of 20 percent. But the agency also reports the much-needed moisture is helping replenish farm ponds and soil moisture. In its weekly update, the agency said supplies of topsoil moisture are running short to very short in about 38 percent of Kansas, down from 40 percent one week ago. It will take longer to replenish subsoil moisture, now rated 68 percent short in Kansas. The condition of Kansas rangelands and pastures is still rated poor to very poor across 68 percent of the state.


Kansas Co-Op Awarded $15M to Improve Electric Service

GIRARD, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a southeast Kansas electrical cooperative is getting about $15 million to make system improvements. The USDA says the funds will help Girard-based Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative build 242 miles of distribution line and make other improvements. The money includes a loan of about $192,000 for smart grid projects. The agency says 12 other states are also getting a total of about $280 million for similar upgrades in rural areas, resulting in the construction of more than 1,900 miles of new or improved electric line.

Circus Tiger Briefly Escapes During Kansas Show

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A circus tiger got loose behind the scenes during a show in Kansas but was quickly captured by handlers before many spectators knew what was going on. The Salina Journal reports the big cat escaped backstage during an Isus Shrine Circus show at 7 pm Saturday at the Salina Bicentennial Center. Staff members blocked off all entrances where the public could come into contact with the tiger to minimize risk. That included a public restroom, where workers had to turn people away until the tiger was back in custody. Bicentennial manager Chris Bird says most people, other than those who couldn't get into the restroom, had no idea a dangerous animal had briefly escaped. The circus had one more show scheduled for Sunday afternoon.


Kansas Club Owner Sentenced for Tax Evasion

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina man has been sentenced to three years of probation for filing false tax returns on his income from a strip club he owned. The U.S. Attorney's Office says 49-year-old Kirk Roberts must also pay taxes totaling $153,000 under the sentence he received Monday in federal court. Roberts pleaded guilty in January to failing to report nearly $538,000 in cash receipts at his Wild Wild West club from 2006 through 2008. Investigators said the club charged customers a nightly cover charge. It also charged nightly cash fees from dancers for performing onstage or using private rooms. Roberts admitted depositing the cash into a personal account rather than putting into the club's bank account.


Kansas Plane Crash Survivor Hannah Luce Working on Memoir

NEW YORK (AP) — The sole survivor of a plane crash last year in Kansas is working on a memoir. Publisher Atria/Howard Books has told The Associated Press that Hannah Luce has a deal for "Fields of Grace." The book is scheduled to come out Oct. 22. Luce, the 23-year-old daughter of Teen Mania Ministries founder Ron Luce, was severely burned in the crash of a twin engine Cessna 401 last May that killed four others. In a statement issued through her publisher on Monday, Luce said she was writing a story of "perseverance" and finding hope in "life's darkest moments." Howard Books is a Christian-oriented imprint of Simon & Schuster.


Kansas Judge Orders 7-Year Sentence in Killing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — One of nine defendants in the shooting death of a Topeka woman during a botched robbery has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison. Nineteen-year-old Daquan Wilkins was sentenced Monday in Shawnee County District Court for involuntary manslaughter in Natalie Gibson's killing, aggravated battery in the wounding of Lori Allison and attempted robbery. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that he also was sentenced to six months for an attempted auto burglary. Prosecutors said the women were shot in 2011 when they returned home as the suspects were planning to break into their house to steal a television. Although Wilkins wasn't the gunman, Judge David Debenham said he bears some responsibility for the crimes. Prosecutors said the gunman was 19-year-old Jimmy Netherland. He's serving a life sentence.

Judge Sets June Trial in Kansas Cyberattack Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has scheduled a summer trial for a Wisconsin man accused of joining a cyberattack on Wichita-based Koch Industries. The scheduling order handed down Friday in the case of 37-year-old Erick J. Rosol of Black Creek, Wissonsin, sets his trial for June 25 in U.S. District Court in Wichita. Rosol was indicted on one count each of damaging a computer and conspiracy to damage a computer. Prosecutors allege the computer hacking group Anonymous asked conspirators in February 2011 to send a high volume of repeated requests to Koch's website, crashing the site. Rosol is also accused of sending a code that damaged Koch's computer. Defense lawyer Kurt Kerns says his client is innocent. Kerns says nothing was hacked and no information was lost.

Kansas Woman Wins Seat on School Board She's Suing

BURLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — A woman who is suing an east-central Kansas school board will soon be serving on that board. Monique Hart won an election to the Burlington Unified School District, and will take her seat in late June. That's just days after Hart's $7.4 million lawsuit against the board is scheduled to go to court. Hart sued the board and superintendent Cliff Williams last May. She claims Williams gave the board false information about her that ended her job, and that the district published confidential information on her employment. Hart worked for the district from 2000 until the district did not renew her contract in 2011. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a judge dismissed claims against Williams but the board is still fighting claims of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.


Kansas Motorist Injured by Flying Turkey

PARTRIDGE, Kan. (AP) — Cattle, deer, even the occasional horse are all known to create road hazards in Kansas. But it was a flying turkey that did in one driver's windshield. The Reno County sheriff's office says a 65-year-old Larned man suffered minor injuries around 9 am Monday when the big bird crashed through the windshield of his SUV. The turkey landed in the man's lap, then moved over to the lap of his passenger. KWCH-TV reports that the turkey did not survive the crash. The male motorist was treated at the scene for minor cuts and glass in his eyes. The accident happened on U.S. 50 in Partridge, about 12 miles southwest of Hutchinson.

Missouri DSS Relents, Will Release Records in Abuse Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Department of Social Services says it will turn over documents in the case of a Kansas City girl found locked in a closet last year. The Kansas City Star requested the documents nine months ago but the department had declined to release them. The Star reports that a DSS attorney said late Friday the newspaper's request would be honored as soon as the documents are prepared. The decision appears to reverse a lack of openness that began after the girl, known as LP, was found malnourished in a Kansas City home last June. Top Republican lawmakers had called on Gov. Jay Nixon to order the documents be released. A law passed in 2000 allows the release of information in cases where a child has died or been seriously injured.

Winfield Will Rebuild Playground Destroyed by Fire

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — Residents and city officials in Winfield say their town's children will have another playground. The playground at Island Park was destroyed in an arson fire last month. It was the second time since 2008 that arsonists ruined the playground. Winfield City Manager Warren Porter tells KWCH that the city received an insurance check of $624,000 last week. However, the insurance company won't give the city replacement coverage again, only liability. Porter says that could change the design of the park. A Facebook page set up after the fire helped raise another $1,600 in donations. A teenager was arrested after the first fire but Porter says police have made no arrests in the second fire.


KCK Man Accused in Drowning Attempt Enters Plea

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas man accused of attempting to drown two children has pleaded guilty to reduced charges. The Kansas City Star reports that Lamonte J. Brown was scheduled to go to trial Monday on a charge of attempted murder. But the 24-year-old pleaded guilty Friday to the reduced charges of aggravated kidnapping and criminal threat charges in Wyandotte County District Court. Brown is scheduled to be sentenced June 7. During Brown's preliminary hearing, witnesses testified that officers stopped Brown in January 2012 as he held a small child underwater in a bathtub. Officers then shot Brown with a stun gun and wrestled the child away from him. Authorities said the children did not suffer serious injury.

Sudanese Man in KC Wants to Visit Mother in Africa

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man who left Sudan as a child nearly 30 years ago and has since resettled in Kansas City wants to return to Sudan to see his mother, after learning she's still alive. Joseph Taban Rufino fled his home in Africa when he was 11 after fighting erupted between Islamic forces and Christian rebels. The Kansas City Star reports Rufino believed his family members were dead and became one of the 20,000 Lost Boys of Sudan who walked for months across deserts and mountains to safety in Ethiopia. Rufino came to Kansas City in 2001 as part of a program with the Don Bosco Center. A friend found his mother in Sudan last year, and supporters are trying to raise enough money to send him home to visit.

Kansas Nonprofit Cooks Up Dog Treats for Good Cause

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A program that began seven years ago to help homeless people in Lawrence gain job skills has proven to be a hit with four-legged visitors to the local farmers' market. The Lawrence Journal-World reports dogs can't seem to get enough of Good Dog! Biscuits and Treats, baked fresh five days a week in the kitchen of the Lawrence Community Shelter. The treats are made and marketed by residents of the shelter. The nonprofit's founder and general manager, Dianne Huggins, says the idea was to give people a chance to develop skills that could help them find jobs and get out of homelessness. Eight or nine current or former residents are employed at a time by Good Dog!, and Huggins says 16 people so far have graduated to other jobs.

2 Wichita Children Taken into Protective Custody

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say two boys are in protective custody and their mother is jailed on suspicion of child endangerment. Officers were called to a north Wichita home Saturday and found a 7-year-old boy wandering the streets. He told police his mother had locked him out of the house and left with his 9-year-old brother. Wichita police spokesman Sergeant Scott Brunow says the boy said he hadn't eaten or taken a bath for two days. Officers were unable to locate the mother. Neighbors called police when she returned to the home Saturday night. Brunow says the home was filthy and had no electricity. A 9-year-old boy was also taken into protective custody.

Former Detective to Discuss Killing of JFK's Assassin

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The retired Dallas homicide detective who was handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when the suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy was killed is coming to Washburn University. Ninety-two-year-old James Leavelle will speak about the experience during a public forum at 11 am Tuesday in Washburn's Memorial Union. He'll also take questions from the audience. Leavelle gained fame as the officer in the light-colored suit who was escorting Oswald when the accused assassin was shot to death by Jack Ruby in November 1963, two days after Kennedy was killed. A photograph of the shooting is one of the most reprinted in history.


Missouri Woman Shown in Photo of Boston Suspects

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 20-year-old northwest Missouri woman shown in a photograph near the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing wonders what might have been if she hadn't insisted her mother meet her elsewhere on the course instead of the finish line. Tina Bradshaw, of Liberty, crossed the Boston finish line about 10 minutes before the explosions that killed three people and injured more than 150 last week. The surviving suspect is hospitalized. His brother died during a getaway attempt. Bradshaw is shown in a photo nearing the finish line a few feet from the suspects. Bradshaw says she and her mother normally would have gathered at the finish line. But instead they met at the 20-mile mark, where Tina Bradshaw tossed a bracelet she'd woven for her father, who died recently of cancer.



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