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Regional Headlines for Monday, December 17, 2012


Authorities Officially Identify Man Who Shot Police Officers in Topeka 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified the gunman who killed two Topeka police officers as a 22-year-old man who records show had a criminal record. During a news conference Monday, authorities said the shooter was David Tiscareno. Officers later shot him. Online court records show Tiscareno was convicted previously of theft of less than $1,000 and a weapons violation. He was sentenced to probation both times. Authorities said officers were investigating a report of a possible drug deal in a grocery store parking lot Sunday night when Tiscareno opened fire, killing two officers. Tiscareno fled. He was killed early Monday after authorities fired tear gas inside the home where he was holed up. The Shawnee County sheriff's office says officers opened fire when the man emerged from the home with a gun.


Slain Kansas Police Officer Had Long Military Career

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Topeka police officer killed in the line of duty served nearly 25 years in the military with the Marine Corps Reserve and the Kansas Air National Guard. The Kansas National Guard released details Monday of Topeka Police Corporal David Gogian's military service. The 50-year-old Gogian was fatally shot Sunday outside a grocery store while responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle. Also killed was 29-year-old Topeka police officer Jeff Atherly. Gogian began his military career in April 1981 and spent six years in the Marine reserves. He joined the Kansas Air National Guard in April 1991 and retired in April 2010. He left as a senior master sergeant and chief of a small weather unit that helped assess flying conditions for guard refueling tankers and Army helicopters.


Snow Heading for Most of Western Kansas

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Just in time to complicate holiday travel, the season's first big snowstorm is forecast to blow into western Kansas beginning Wednesday. The National Weather Service offices in Dodge City and Goodland posted blizzard watches Monday for 29 counties from the Colorado line to as far east as Hays. Only the southwestern-most Kansas counties are excluded. Forecasters expect snow to begin falling in western Kansas sometime early Wednesday and spread eastward throughout the day. Accumulations are expected to vary widely, with some places getting only an inch or two and others up to six inches. Winds gusting over 40 mph are expected to create blizzard conditions. A half-dozen counties of north-central Kansas are also expected to get a few inches of snow, but without the high winds.


Analysis: Budget Debate Roiled by 2-Year Proposal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has roiled the debate about the state's finances by suggesting a return to two-year budgeting. The practice has been out of fashion for more than half a century. But Brownback was serious enough about the idea to promise last week to submit a two-year spending plan to state lawmakers when they convene next month for their 2013 session. Legislative leaders in both parties are intrigued, all but guaranteeing some discussion of his suggestion. The conservative Republican governor is signaling his desire to jolt the state out of its short-term thinking about spending. The state had two-year budgets for decades before it began enacting annual spending blueprints in 1956. Since then, state government has remained wedded to an annual cycle.

State Prisons Equipped to House Paralyzed Inmates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old Topeka man who was left a paraplegic after an accident that killed a passenger in his car is scheduled to be sentenced to prison this week. Hunter Hillmer is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday for reckless second-degree murder for a March 19 accident that killed 15-year-old Madison Naill. He also was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and aggravated battery for injuries sufferd by a second passenger. State corrections officials tell The Topeka Capital-Journal that paralyzed inmates are housed at various facilities, and are kept in the general population. Corrections department spokesman Jeremy Barclay says the state pays only slightly more to house a paralyzed inmate, mostly to buy necessary equipment. Barclay said several paralyzed inmates might be transferred to Oswego when it reopens next month.


Legislators Propose KanCare Oversight Panel

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators will introduce measures during the 2013 session to create oversight of the state's new KanCare Medicaid system. House Representative David Crum and Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook announced their plans Monday during a Statehouse news conference. KanCare is the new federally approved system for Medicaid in Kansas, providing health care services to the poor and disabled. Lawmakers will propose creating an oversight panel to which KanCare officials will report regular progress on the system. Similar panels have been created in the Legislature to oversee other state programs and initiatives. Joining the legislators Monday was Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, who led the state's KanCare waiver application process. Three managed care organizations will begin implementing health care in January. Crum says oversight will help address any issues with implementing the new system.

Huelskamp Opening Field Office in Manhattan

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp says he'll open a satellite office in Manhattan as the city becomes part of Kansas' sprawling 1st Congressional District. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the office will be staffed by Steven Howe, who now works out of Huelskamp's office in Salina. Howe is expected to divide his time between the two cities. Manhattan has been part of the 2nd Congressional District for decades. This year's redistricting moved it into the "Big First," effective January 3. Huelskamp made the announcement last week during a stop in Manhattan, where he said local officials had lobbied for a field office. Manhattan will be the largest city in the 1st Congressional District, which includes more than half the state's 105 counties.

Kansas Water Authority Mulls Possible Legislation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Water Authority is holding a special meeting this week to discuss any possible 2013 legislation. The agency's agenda for the session Wednesday also includes approval of a water quality study above El Dorado Reservoir. The meeting is scheduled for 10 am at the Kansas Water Office in Topeka.

Former KC Area Resident in Newtown

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas City area resident who now lives in Newtown, Connecticut says the last few days have been especially difficult. Lillian Davis Bittman graduated from Shawnee Mission South High School in 1979. She and her family have lived in Newtown since 1995. Her three children, ages 21, 17 and 13, all formerly attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, where authorities say 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 students and six adults before killing himself Friday. Bittman tells The Kansas City Star there have been a lot of tears and sleeplessness since the shootings. Bittman was briefly chairman of the Newtown Board of Education until 2010, and says she was on the search team that hired principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was among those killed.

Wichita Schools Provided Crisis Teams for Schools on Monday

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita School District says it had crisis teams on hand Monday for students with questions about the shootings in Connecticut. The district says on its website that Superintendent John Allison sent an email to parents Friday saying the district's crisis teams would be available Monday to support students who have questions or concerns about the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Connecticut authorities say 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six adults at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School, before killing himself Friday. Allison also reassured parents in the email that the Wichita School District, which has about 50,000 students, has comprehensive safety plans at each school. He also suggested several ways to help children through the crisis, including assuring children they're safe at school.


Iraq Subcontractor Admits Tax Evasion

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A northeastern Kansas man has admitted failing to pay nearly $82,000 in income taxes on money he earned as a subcontractor in Iraq. The U.S. Attorney's office says 43-year-old Gregory S. Light, of Louisburg, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of tax evasion. Sentencing was scheduled for next April. Prosecutors said Light served in Iraq as a lieutenant colonel with the Kansas Army National Guard. He returned to Iraq following his deployment as a subcontractor with his own company, called Lighthouse Consulting. The government says Light was wired a monthly salary by one contractor, but received cash from another. He reported only the wired salary on his tax returns. In all, the government says Light failed to report more than $310,000 of income to the government.


Wichita Police: Man Surrenders After Wife's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man turned himself in after his 61-year-old wife was stabbed to death. Lieutenant Randy Reynolds said Debra Palmer was found dead Sunday in the basement of the couple's home. Reynolds says her 55-year-old husband drove to the county jail and turned himself in. Officers who went to the home found Palmer's body. The husband is being held in the Sedgwick County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. Reynolds tells The Wichita Eagle that a motive for the attack is not clear but the couple's marriage might have been coming to an end.


Land Board Approves Keystone Lease

HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Montana is approving easements to let the Keystone XL pipeline cross state-owned land, including the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. On Monday, the Land Board, chaired by Governor Brian Schweitzer, sold a package of 50-year easements to TransCanada for $741,000. Critics argued the board isn't doing enough to make sure the pipeline will be safe for the environment, pointing to last year's oil spill on the Yellowstone when a pipeline ruptured. Opponents also argued it shouldn't be built at all due to global warming concerns from oil production. TransCanada told the board that it has agreed to bury the pipeline 40 feet under the major rivers. The board also gave the backers of the Montana-Alberta Tie Line easements across state land in north-central Montana to complete its project early next year.


Laclede Group Buys 2 Utilities, Including MGE

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis-based Laclede Group says it will pay just over $1 billion to buy utility companies in Missouri and New England. Laclede announced Monday that it will buy the state's second-largest gas utility, Missouri Gas Energy, which has 500,000 customers in the Kansas City area. It will also buy New England Gas Company, which serves 50,000 customers in southeast Massachusetts. Both utilities are owned by Southern Union Company. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the purchase will almost double Laclede's size. The transaction is expected to close before the end of next year's third quarter. Suzanne Sitherwood, Laclede's chief executive officer, says the deal will expand the company's presence in Missouri and give it a foothold in a new market.

Derby Man Injured in Skydiving Accident

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Derby man has been hospitalized after a skydiving accident. The Wichita Eagle reports that the man's parachute caught on a tree and collapsed near the end of his jump Saturday. The man, who was not identified, fell 25 feet to the ground. Sedgwick County sheriff's Sergeant Gary Hargus says the man was hospitalized with critical injuries. He was part of a group of four skydivers who planned to land on Cook Airfield near Derby. All of their parachutes opened appropriately after they jumped at 1:50 pm Saturday, but the man failed to turn into the wind and continued floating eastward past his fellow skydivers. His parachute snagged the top of a tree and deflated.


Wichita Woman Robbed While Trying to Buy TV Set

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A stranger's offer to sell a big-screen TV turned out to be much too good to be true for a Wichita family. KWCH-TV reports that a man approached another man in a parking lot Saturday afternoon and showed him a 50-inch TV set. The prospective buyer called his wife, who invited the supposed seller to their home. But instead of selling her the TV, the man robbed her at gunpoint. He left the big TV behind, but it turned out not to work. The initial encounter took place outside a convenience store in south Wichita. No arrest was reported as of Monday.

Historic Wichita Castle on Auction Block

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The last remaining castle-style house in Wichita is on the market, and the owners are hoping for a quick sale. The Wichita Eagle reports the 124-year-old Castle Inn Riverside will be auctioned Tuesday. The event begins at 11 a.m. in the parlor, one of 28 rooms in the sprawling home on the Little Arkansas River. Terry and Paula Lowry bought the castle for $300,000 in 1994 and spent more than $3 million in repairs and restoration. They later turned the second and third floors into an 11-room bed-and-breakfast, with a fireplace and a bathroom in almost every room. Now in their 60s, the owners are ready to downsize. They hope whoever buys the castle will keep it accessible to the public.

Numbers Disappointing at Quivira Bird Count

STAFFORD, Kan. (AP) — The annual bird count at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in central Kansas showed some bird numbers lower than expected, a likely effect of recent drought. After two years of devastating drought, hopes weren't high when about 18 birders headed out for Quivira's 52nd official Christmas bird count on Friday. The Quivira count is one of several held in mid-December through early January in Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that in the past the refuge has had some of the nation's highest counts for snow geese and Canada geese, as well as blackbird counts in the millions. This year's tally was about 500 blackbirds, 1,000 snow geese and one Canada goose. The total of about 77 species found was higher than expected.


3 Bodies Found in Northwest Missouri Home

SMITHVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in northwest Missouri are investigating the deaths of a married couple and a 14-year-old relative as a possible double murder-suicide. Clay County Sheriff Bob Boydston says a family friend went to the rural home north of Kansas City on Monday morning to check on the residents and saw what appeared to be a body through a window. Boydston says deputies found the teenage boy and a female cousin in her 60s in their beds with gunshot wounds to their heads. The woman's husband, about 70 years old, was found in another part of the house with a handgun nearby. The sheriff says the couple had become the boy's guardians within the past year. Boydston says family and friends reported that the older man had been suffering from depression.


10 Charged in Missouri Stolen Cargo Operation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Kansas City say 10 western Missouri men have been charged with conspiring to steal nearly $1 million worth of commercial trucks, trailers and cargo. An indictment unsealed Monday says the conspiracy involved the thefts of five Freightliner trucks and 17 trailers between 2005 and 2011. Among the stolen goods were more than $200,000 worth of Nike shoes, $17,000 worth of beer and hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of meat, including frozen ribs, chicken and wings. Prosecutors say some of the men disguised the stolen trucks. Others are accused of delivering or receiving the stolen cargo. Eight of the suspects are from Kansas City. The others are from Raytown and Holden, Missouri.


Sprint Ups Offer to $2.2B for Remainder of Clearwire Holdings

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Sprint Nextel says it reached a deal to buy out the minority shareholders of Clearwire for $2.2 billion, a higher price than it previously said it would pay. Sprint says it will pay $2.97 per share for Clearwire stock it doesn't already own. Last week, the company said it would offer $2.90 per share, which totaled $2.1 billion. The deal still needs the approval of regulators and Clearwire shareholders, but Sprint expects it to close by the middle of next year. The acquisition will give Sprint total control of the struggling Clearwire and more space on the airwaves for data services. Sprint Nextel is the country's number 3 wireless carrier, trailing Verizon Wireless and AT&T. Clearwire shares fell 25 cents, or 7 percent, to $3.12 in premarket trading.


Children's Book Illustrator's Holiday Artwork on Display at ESU

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Holiday artwork from famous children's book illustrators is on display at Emporia State University. A show called "Illustrating the Holidays" will remain on display through January 25. It features holiday greetings sent to the late children's book editor May Massee. Before retiring in 1960, she published titles such as "Make Way for Ducklings," ''Madeline and the Gypsies," ''Corduroy," and "Pippi Longstockings." The "Illustrating the Holidays" exhibit will draw from a collection of original book illustrations and other items from Massee's career, which are housed at Emporia State. In addition to original artwork, there will be commercially printed cards created by some of the illustrators. Plus, the exhibit highlights the artwork of two holiday books from the May Massee Collection: "The Christmas Anna Angel" and "The Long Christmas."


2 Kansas Officers Fatally Shot Outside Market; Suspect Killed Following Standoff

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man suspected in the fatal shooting of two Topeka police officers has died after an armed standoff with law enforcement at a house in the city. The man is suspected of killing 50-year-old Corporal David Gogian and 29-year-old Jeff Atherly as they responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle Sunday night. Shawnee County officials say in a statement that Kansas Bureau of Investigation officers tried to negotiate with the suspect before firing tear gas into the home. The statement says he emerged from the home carrying a gun and officers shot him. He was taken to a hospital where he died of his injuries early Monday. It wasn't clear if the suspect fired his gun.

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

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