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Regional Headlines for Monday, August 13, 2012




Report: Condition of Kansas Crops Worsens

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government report shows crop conditions worsening in Kansas. Pasture and range conditions are declining. Stock water supplies are dwindling. Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service released its weekly snapshot Monday — a dismal report that puts numbers to the unfolding agricultural disaster. About 70 percent of the corn and soybeans were rated in poor to very poor condition. Sorghum was not far behind with 66 percent of that crop also in poor to very poor condition. Meanwhile, about 12 percent of the state's corn crop has been harvested. The situation is also grim for cattlemen. About 90 percent of pastures are in poor to very poor condition. Hay supplies are short to very short in 74 percent of the state. Just 27 percent of Kansas has adequate stock water supplies.


UPDATE: Shawnee County to Hold New Vote After Ballot Mix-Up

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee County Commission has decided to have a limited special election so that 432 Topeka residents can vote again after some received the wrong ballots for party primaries at their Topeka polling place.  The commission Monday ordered the new election for August 28. Only voters who cast ballots in last week's Kansas primaries in two precincts will be allowed to participate. Also, they'll be allowed to vote only for candidates in the 52nd and 56th Kansas House districts and for Republican and Democratic precinct committee members, the only races affected.  The two precincts — each in a different House district — had the same polling place. The Shawnee County elections commissioner's office believes as many as 87 voters received the wrong ballots but it couldn't pinpoint exactly which voters.


Seward County Canvass Certifies Challenger Over Incumbent in 125th Kansas House GOP Race

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — Seward County election officials say school board member Reid Petty of Liberal won the Republican primary for the Kansas House in the 125th District. Canvassing in Seward County on Monday found Petty defeated incumbent Representative Carl Holmes of Liberal by nine votes, 904 to 895. The Hutchinson News reports Petty held an eight-vote lead before provisional ballots were counted Monday. Holmes was first elected to the House in 1985, and gained national prominence on energy policy questions as the longtime chairman of the House Energy and Utilities Committee. Petty is chairman of the Republican Party in Seward County. No Democrat is running in the 125th House District general election.


CDC: Nearly 30 Percent of Adult Kansans are Obese

ATLANTA (AP) — A new government study is ranking the states on obesity, and the numbers show nearly 30 percent of Kansas adults are obese. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that 29.6 percent of Kansans were classified as obese in 2011. That's up slightly from the 2010 rate of 29.4 percent. In neighboring Missouri, the survey showed the rate of obese adults was 30.3 percent. To the west, Colorado had the nation's lowest rate at just below 21 percent. Overall, more than a third of American adults are obese. The latest figures are based on a 2011 telephone survey that asked adults their height and weight. For the first time, households that do not have landline telephones were included in the survey.

Shooter Empties Kansas Clothing Store; No One Injured

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 27-year-old man accused of firing a shot inside a store had been confronted by an employee over a can of soda. No one was injured in Monday morning's incident at a Burlington Coat Factory store. But the shot sent some of the estimated 20 employees and customers running outside, while others hid in a break room. Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz says a security guard asked the man if he was going to pay for a can of soda he was drinking.  Stolz says the suspect pulled out a pistol and fired a shot at the guard from six to eight feet away. Police using a stun gun quickly took the suspect into custody. The man was taken to a hospital for observation. 

Silver Alert Issued for Overland Park Man

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Police have issued a Silver Alert for a 66-year-old Overland Park man missing since Thursday. Overland Park police say David Lee Dotson was last known to be home Thursday morning. Police say he is a diabetic and may not have his insulin with him. Dotson was last seen wearing a yellow polo shirt, jeans, gray tennis shoes and eye glasses. He drives a red 2004 Toyota Highlander with Kansas tags, 328 CGM.

Kansas, Nebraska Water Lawsuit Back in Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A dispute between Kansas and Nebraska over use of water from the Republican River is heading back to court — in New England. The trial begins Monday in federal court in Portland, Maine. A special master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court will take evidence and recommend a resolution. Kansas officials allege Nebraska is violating a 2003 settlement over use of water in the Republican River basin. The state claims Nebraska exceeded its allotment by more than 78,000 acre-feet of water from 2005 through 2006. Kansas asked the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 to reopen the case and enforce the settlement. The court agreed to reopen the case last year and appointed a special master.

KDHE Seeks Public Comment on Galena Site

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials are seeking public comments on a plan to clean up pollution at a former smelter site in the southeastern part of the state. Officials of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment planned to outline the remediation plan for the Eagle Picher Smelter Site in Galena during a City Council meeting Monday night. A draft of the plan will also be available at Galena City Hall and at KDHE offices in Topeka until the comment period ends August 23. The Eagle Picher site processed lead, zinc and cadmium for decades until it was closed in 2004. Tests found pollution from lead, mercury and other toxins in soil, sediment and surface water. Officials have said capping and consolidating the waste onsite would be the most cost-effective solution.

Escaped Ness County Inmate Caught in Western Kansas

TREGO CENTER, Kan. (AP) — A convicted rapist who escaped from the Ness County jail is in custody after his arrest in Trego County. Trego County Sheriff Rich Schneider says officers arrested 37-year-old Benito Cardenas Jr. Sunday afternoon at a farm east of Trego Center, about 9 miles south of WaKeeney. The Hays Daily News reports a woman called officers when a man came to her farm and said he wanted her car. The woman resisted and the man left. He was found at another farm and surrendered without incident. Ness County authorities have not said how Cardenas escaped from jail on Friday. Cardenas was convicted last week of rape and aggravated criminal sodomy under Jessica's Law because his victim was under the age of 14. He could be sentenced to life in prison.


4-Year-Old Critically Wounded by Stray Bullet

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 4-year-old boy was critically wounded after being hit with a stray bullet from a rolling gunbattle while helping celebrate his mother's birthday. Police say a friend of the family was holding the child Saturday evening when a bullet struck the man in the hand and then hit the boy in the stomach. The Kansas City Star reports dozens of people were celebrating around 8 pm when two cars made a U-turn nearby and the shooting started. Police say the shooting began after an altercation they believe started outside a convenience store. Police did not have clear descriptions of the vehicles involved and have not released descriptions of the shooters. The child was listed in critical condition Saturday night, and police on Sunday said his condition hadn't changed.


PSU Physics Professor Killed in Crash

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — An assistant professor at Pittsburg State University who was a principal researcher for a NASA project on black holes died in a traffic accident in southeast Kansas.  The Joplin Globe reports that 50-year-old Alexander Konopelko died in the two-car crash east of Pittsburg on Friday. The Crawford County Sheriff's Department says Konopelko's wife, Tatiana, and 11-year-old daughter Nicole, were also injured in the crash, which occurred as the family's car was making a U-turn at an intersection and pulled into the path of a westbound vehicle. Konopelko arrived at Pittsburg State in 2008 from Purdue University. His research team recently received a $140,000 grant from NASA to try to understand black holes. He was collaborating with about 100 scientists from institutions across the U.S. on the project.


Salina Priest Pleads No Contest to Battery

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina priest has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery after being accused of inappropriately touching an adult male. The Salina Journal reports the Reverend Allen Scheer, of Sacred Heart Cathedral, was accused in April of inappropriately touching a man. Scheer had been scheduled for trial Wednesday on a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery before the plea. A statement on the website of the Catholic Diocese of Salina said Scheer pleaded no contest Friday to the lesser charge of misdemeanor battery. The diocese also says Scheer was sentenced to six months' probation. Bishop Edward Weisenburger said in a statement that Scheer may possibly return to ministry after he's evaluated by health care professionals and diocese leaders.


Southeast Kansas Casino Helps with Back-to-School Expenses

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Parents of students in Sumner County public schools are hitting the jackpot as they prepare for the new school year, thanks to the state's newest casino. The Wichita Eagle reports the Kansas Star Casino is giving $100 prepaid VISA rewards cards to each student in Mulvane and Sumner County schools to help pay for back-to-school supplies. That's about 6,000 students who have received the cards. The casino also plans to start giving out $500 cards to any of the 425 full-time teachers who apply for them. The money is part of the Kansas All-Star Scholars Fund, which is completely funded by the casino. The fund already has given out $368,000 to 2012 graduating seniors in the form of $1,000 scholarships.

Kansas Oil Boom Gives Boost to Some, but Not Others

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An oil boom that started two years ago in southern Kansas has given a boost to landowners and local governments with an infusion of cash for lease payments. But the Wichita Eagle reports that is having a negative impact for some who don't have a stake in the oil industry because of rising housing costs. Largely out-of-state oil companies have drilled hundreds of horizontal wells in places like Sumner, Harper, Barber and Comanche counties, delivering an enormous shot of cash in lease payments. The Kansas Department of Revenue says total assessed value of Harper County land rose 33 percent between January 2010 and January 2012. Barber County's assessed value went up 34 percent and Comanche County's rose 27 percent during the same period.

Analysis: Next Hurdle for Kansas GOP May Be on the Right

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Republicans have cleared away a big obstacle this week to their ambitions to convert Kansas into a policy laboratory. But they could face a new problem as they work on fiscal and social issues next year. That problem is the state GOP's ingrained habit of splintering and squabbling. Voters in last week's Republican primaries ousted moderate state senators, and are likely to emerge from the November general election with a conservative GOP majority in the Senate alongside one in the House. But Brownback and the Legislature's new GOP leaders will face rising expectations on the right and a coalition of allies with diverse policy goals. Brownback and conservative legislators also will be enmeshed in the details of drafting a budget and managing state government.

Health Fair Offers Services for Hispanics, Latinos

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Organizers of a health fair for Hispanic and Latino residents say the event was so popular they'll be holding more of them. The Wichita Eagle reports an estimated 2,400 people attended the first Hispanic/Latino Health and Wellness Fair on Saturday to receive low-cost — or even free — medical and health services. Attendees also were screened for diabetes, received back-to-school physical exams and had their teeth, vision and hearing checked. Spanish Media Group president Dan Oropesa says Wichita has about 90,000 members of the Spanish community, and fairs like the one Saturday go a long way toward addressing the needs of an underserved population. He says language barriers often create hurdles for Spanish-speaking people who need health services.


Missouri and Kansas Universities Seek Out-of-State Students

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Out-of-state students are becoming increasingly important to universities in Missouri and Kansas, which are trying to make up for cuts in higher education funding. The Kansas City Star reports about 35 percent of the University of Missouri's freshmen this fall are from other states. That's more than double the 17 percent of 10 years ago. And nonresident applications to the University of Kansas exceeded resident applications this year. The school says in 2010, non-Kansas residents made up 25 percent of schools freshman class. Kansas State also says it's had record applications and enrollment from out-of-state students for the last six years. University officials say they are recruiting more out-of-state students to help curtail rising costs and lower funding. Non-resident students generally pay higher tuition rates than in-state students.


Second Murder Trial in Fatal Crash after Chase

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Jury selection is scheduled to begin in the second trial of a man charged with murder after a woman was killed during a police chase in Wichita. Thirty-year-old Greg Berry was convicted of first-degree murder in August 2005. But the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction, saying the jury should been able to consider lesser charges. The Wichita Eagle reports jury selection for the second trial is scheduled to start Monday in Sedgwick County. Prosecutors allege Berry was fleeing from a Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy when he caused a crash that killed 55-year-old Vicki Brown of Haysville. Investigators said Berry ran into a nearby home but was arrested after one of the occupants called 911.


Hutchinson Area Residents Concerned about Levee

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Residents near a levee in an unincorporated section of Hutchinson are concerned about the condition of the levee, which both the city and the county have said they won't pay to improve. The city voted last year to improve and recertify levees along the Arkansas River and Cow Creek, with the exception of Ring Levee C, which protects the unincorporated section of Hutchinson. The Hutchinson News reports that Reno County has also declined to fund the estimated $570,000 in repairs. Federal Emergency Management Agency also plans to remap and reaccredit area levees in 2013, which may mean area residents will have to buy flood insurance. Ken Ebmeier, who lives near the levee, says residents want to know what's going to happen and are concerned about their property values.

Quilter Teaches Class at Historic Site in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A nationally known quilter is leading a doll-making workshop at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka. Marla Jackson will work with a dozen participants Saturday. The artist-in-residence's great-grandmother was a slave and Jackson spent time with her as a child. The Brown site says Jackson's artistic direction was influenced by her family's stories. And the goal of her quilts is to depict scenes and themes that capture the African-American experience. Participants in the workshop must bring their own sewing machines, but all fabric, filling, accessories, and patterns will be provided.

Wichita Riverfest Loses Money for 4th Straight Year

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita's signature event has lost money for the fourth straight year and organizers say reserves that helped cover the deficits are nearly depleted. The Wichita Eagle reports the River Festival is expected to lose about $85,000 this year as button sales and corporate sponsorships have failed to keep pace with expenditures. Wichita Festivals Inc. puts the blame on the economy, though there's also some concern that people are attending the events without purchasing a $5 button they're asked to have. President and CEO Janet Wright says festival officials have some tough decisions ahead about what kinds of things they can afford next year. She says people need to understand that if they want the Riverfest to stay around, they have to understand it can't be for free.

Kansas Lake to Be Emptied, Stocked with Better Fish

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — A popular state fishing lake in south-central Kansas will soon be emptied of water — and fish. Wildlife biologists have determined that problematic species like invasive white perch have crowded out more desirable sport fish at Kingman State Fishing Lake. The Wichita Eagle reports the 144-acre lake will soon be drained, with all of the fish to be poisoned and left to die. The Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will refill the lake and eventually restock it with bluegill, northern pike, largemouth bass and channel catfish. This isn't the first time the state has rehabilitated Kingman Lake, but fisheries biologist Jeff Koch says this time, the public won't be allowed to salvage any of the doomed fish. That's so people don't mistakenly take white perch and introduce them elsewhere. A similar restocking plan was announced in Nebraska, at the North Platte Interstate 80 City Lake. The Nebraska restocking plan is scheduled to start on August 21st.

KC Teachers Get Glimpse of Students' Reality

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Some Kansas City teachers are hoping they have a better idea about how some of their students live after taking a police-led tour of the city's urban core. The Kansas City Star reports teachers from the former Central High School spent Thursday on a school bus trying to understand some of the issues facing youngsters who will be filing into their classrooms Monday. In some areas, the teachers at the newly renamed Central Academy of Excellence saw smiling teenagers hanging out together. In others they saw one boarded-up house after another where some of the children live. Vice Principal Thomas Shelton says many of the students who will hang out at school before and after classes literally have nowhere else to go.


Northeast Kansas Officials to Review Mistake with Ballots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A ballot mix-up at a Topeka polling place is complicating the Shawnee County Commission's job of certifying results of last week's party primaries. Voters from two precincts that lie in two different Kansas House districts cast ballots August 7 at the same Topeka church. Both of those districts — the 52nd and the 56th — had contested Republican primaries that may have been affected when as many as 87 voters received the wrong ballot. The Shawnee County Commission must decide what to do about the problem when it meets Monday to certify results of the Democratic and Republican primaries. Shawnee County's elections commissioner has said that pinpointing which voters got the wrong ballots is impossible. She fired the poll worker responsible for the mistake midway through Tuesday's election.

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

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