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Regional Headlines for Monday, February 10, 2014


Child Deaths Subject of Bill in Kansas Senate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Supporters of a bill before the Kansas Senate say it could help improve research on the cause of children's deaths in the state. Currently, the state collects information on child deaths through the State Child Death Review Board. The board publishes statistics each year on deaths and causes, seeking to pinpoint trends and develop prevention strategies. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that researchers aren't allowed to obtain more detailed information about the deaths because of privacy concerns. Under the proposed bill, researchers would still not have direct access to information on child deaths. But academics, research organizations, nonprofit groups and governmental agencies would be able to apply to the review board for non-personally identifiable, aggregate data.

Dentists Speak Out as Fluoride Bill Nears Hearing

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Oral health advocates in Kansas are pushing back against an effort to require cities that put fluoride in their water supplies to notify citizens that fluoride lowers the IQ in children. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Kansas Dental Association director Kevin Richardson insists fluoride reduces tooth decay and has been proven safe. Wichita Republican Representative Steve Brunk has introduced a bill in the House requiring the IQ notification, based on a 2012 Harvard study that found a correlation between slower brain development and increased levels of fluoride in water. That study focused on children in China, which unlike the U.S. has a high natural presence of fluoride in its water. Richardson says most anti-fluoride activists either believe fluoride causes cancer or that the government uses it as a mind-control agent.

This Legislative Session's Abortion Legislation About 'Tweaks'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Abortion is perpetually on the Kansas Legislature's agenda, and a House committee plans to vote this week on legislation pushed by abortion opponents. But supporters describe the measure before the House Federal and State Affairs Committee as technical legislation that makes small changes in existing laws rather than setting new policy. Planned Parenthood officially is neutral. The bill tackles two issues raised by abortion providers in state and federal lawsuits challenging anti-abortion laws enacted last year. One piece revises a requirement that the home pages of abortion providers' websites link to a state health department site with information about pregnancy and fetal development. The bill also revises language in various provisions of state law dealing with medical emergencies in which abortion restrictions are waived.

Agency Says State Slow to Turn over Tobacco Data

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas nonprofit agency says it has spent 10 months and $5,000 trying to get the state attorney general's office to provide information related to a settlement with tobacco companies that funnels millions of dollars into early-childhood programs. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kansas Action for Children president and CEO Shannon Cotsoradis contends the information is of public interest and vital to helping the Legislature and Kansas Children's Cabinet plan for future spending. Attorney General Derek Schmidt says "most parts" of the accounting documents outlining how much the state is estimated to receive each year is "made confidential by a court order." Schmidt says claims that his office has withheld information are not true. He says he has provided more information on the issue than previous administrations.


Kansas House Approves Bill to Help Home Brewers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Home brewers in Kansas would be allowed to share their beer, wine and cider with friends and have the beverages judged in competitions under a bill approved by the state House. House members approved the measure Monday on a 111-7 vote, sending the measure to the Senate. The bill eases restrictions on home brewing. Kansas law permits home brewing if the beer, wine or cider is made only for the brewer or the brewer's family. That means the product can't be shared unless the brewer obtains state licenses for manufacturing or distributing alcoholic beverages. The bill would permit home brewers to provide their products to guests or to judges at competitions, provided the brewer isn't paid. The measure is being pushed by brewing clubs.


Lawrence Police Identify Shooting Victim

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Police in Lawrence have identified a man found shot to death in an apartment in the northern part of the city. But the circumstances of the shooting of 23-year-old Franklin Spottedtail were still being investigated Monday, and police have not labeled it a homicide. Officers went to the apartment shortly after 3 am Sunday after a caller told 911 operators that someone might have been stabbed. Police said Spottedtail was dead of a gunshot wound, not a stabbing, by the time officers arrived.


Police Investigate Homicide at Wichita Communications Company

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are investigating the death of a man found in the basement of a communications company as a homicide. KFDI-FM reports that an employee of Steckline Communications found the body around 8 am Monday. The company operates the Mid America Ag News Network and several radio stations. Investigators said the man was in his mid-20s and had blunt force trauma to his head along with other injuries. Police Sergeant Police Troy Nedbalek declined to say if the victim was a Steckline employee but that he was authorized to be in the building. There were no sign of forced entry, and it's not clear when the man died.


Services Set for KS Family Killed in Plane Crash

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Services will be held Tuesday for four members of a western Kansas family who died last when their small plane crashed in Tennessee. The plane piloted by 60-year-old feedlot owner Glenn Mull, of Pawnee Rock, went down the night of February 3 outside a YMCA building in Nashville. Also killed were Mull's wife, 63-year-old Elaine Mull; their daughter, 40-year-old Amy Harter; and her 16-year-old daughter, Samantha Harter. Services for Glenn and Elaine Mull will be held at 10 am Tuesday at 1st Assembly of God Church in Great Bend. Services for Amy and Samantha Harter will be held at 2 pm, also at the church. Glenn Mull and Amy Harter operated Mull Farms and Feeding. The family had flown out of Great Bend for a cattlemen's trade show in Nashville.


KS Orders Derby Firm to Stop Securities Sales

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Securities Commissioner Josh Ney has ordered Derby-based Proud Veterans and its chief executive officer to stop selling securities in violation of state laws. The agency on Monday announced preliminary findings that the company and CEO Nick Gnemi committed securities fraud by selling an unregistered security, making untrue statements and omitting material statements about the security. At issue are investments toward stock and commodities of grain and milk that would be delivered to foreign countries. Gnemi says Proud Veterans is primarily an agricultural, engineering and construction company that had solicited a couple of investors to work with it. He says the service-disabled veterans' company did not understand the state's requirements and acknowledged that as a business it would do whatever is required to comply.


Board of Ed to Receive Draft of Fingerprint Plan

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Board of Education is expected to receive a draft regulation this week that eventually could lead to all teachers in the state being forced to submit fingerprint cards and undergo background checks when renewing their licenses. The Lawrence Journal-World reports all new teachers have been required since 2002 to submit fingerprint cards and undergo background checks before receiving their initial license. But Education Department officials say up to 35,000 practicing teachers who started working before that never had to provide fingerprint cards. Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll told the state board last month that teachers see the proposed requirements as a personal affront. The state board meets on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week in Topeka.

KS Attorney General Vetted Ag Department's Move

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Acting Kansas Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey says the attorney general's office vetted her department's plans to move more than 100 employees to Manhattan from the state capital of Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that McClaskey faced questions about the move during a recent meeting of the Kansas House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The department expects to move more than 100 of its 150 employees in Topeka to Manhattan by this summer so they're close to Kansas State University and a new national biodefense lab. Republican Representative Don Schroeder of Hesston noted that state law requires the Department of Agriculture to be headquartered in Topeka. McClaskey said the attorney general's office told her the department is in compliance as long as it has a Topeka office.


Northeast KS Residents Feel Crowded by Oil Producers

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — An influx of oil operators in northeast Kansas to reactivate old mineral leases has some property owners feeling like they're being crowded out of their own land. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that residents like Victoria and Fernando Guerrero are seeing their property values go down because of the number of new wells. The couple was stunned last February when they returned to property they purchased before going overseas for Fernando's two-year military employment. The land where they had planned to build their dream home was dotted with oil wells, and there's not enough room to build because of set-back requirements. State Senator Tim Holland, a Baldwin City Democrat, has introduced a bill to give property holders more rights, but it hasn't been scheduled for a hearing.

Kansas Recycling Rate Increases

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansans have been recycling more of their waste. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the state's recycling rate has risen from about 18 percent in 2005 to 34 percent in 2013. The agency says the numbers reflect the percent of waste that ends up in recycling facilities instead of landfills. Bill Bider, director of KDHE's Bureau of Waste Management, says the recycling rate has improved each year over the last decade. The agency also said in a release that the per capita daily disposal rate has dropped by about a fourth since 2005 to about 4 pounds per day. Kansas has 52 municipal solid waste landfills with enough estimated total capacity for about 40 years.

US House Resolution Marks Defeat of Lecompton Constitution

LECOMPTON, Kan. (AP) — Three Kansas lawmakers have introduced a resolution in the U.S. House marking the 155th anniversary of the rejection of a document that would have made Kansas a slave state. The Lecompton Constitution, named for the territorial capital where it was written, was narrowly defeated by the U.S. House in February 1858, sending leaders back to work on a new document. A constitution prohibiting the institution of slavery in Kansas was written in Wyandotte County and ultimately accepted by Congress. Kansas became the 34th state to join the Union on January 29, 1861. The resolution was offered by Republican Representatives Lynn Jenkins, Kevin Yoder and Mike Pompeo. It notes the importance of Lecompton, which has been called "the place where slavery began to die."


Ex-Republic Airlines Pilot Pleads Guilty to Threat

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Republic Airlines pilot has pleaded guilty to threatening to torture and kill the company's CEO and his family. The U.S. attorney's office says 37-year-old Matthew Richard Walker, of Faribault, Minnesota entered the plea Monday in federal court in Kansas City. Prosecutors said one threatening letter was discovered in August 2012 in the cockpit of an aircraft that was parked at Reagan National Airport in Washington. Four identical letters were later discovered on aircraft parked at Reagan International Airport, in Charlotte, North Carolina and at Kansas City International Airport, as well as aboard an aircraft en route from Reagan National Airport to Indianapolis International Airport. A fifth letter was discovered in the KCI crew room. Walker faces up to five years in federal prison without parole and a $250,000 fine.


Weather Service Retools Storm Spotter Presentation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — National Weather Service officials in Wichita have retooled their storm spotter training classes as they prepare for presentations around the region. The Wichita Eagle reports the weather service's "Storm Fury on the Plains" presentations for this year will stress the importance of situational awareness. The classes are being held in all 26 counties in the Wichita branch's warning coverage area. The first will be Monday night in Eureka, with March and April presentations scheduled for Wichita. Meteorologist Chance Hayes says the weather service offers presentations around the state because Kansans have a tendency to become complacent around storms. Hayes says people need to realize that tornadoes don't always react in a typical fashion.


Beechcraft Says Airplane Deliveries Increased in 2013

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita manufacturer Beechcraft Corporation is calling its first year since emerging from bankruptcy protection a success. The company says it saw a 64 percent increase in deliveries, with 205 planes delivered in 2013 compared with 125 the previous year. Deliveries of the King Air aircraft rose 52 percent to 135 planes last year. Deliveries of piston aircraft rose 94 percent to 70 planes. The company also delivered 34 of its T-6 military trainers.CEO Bill Boisture says in a news release the company saw its highest booking rates for plane orders in years and had solid revenue from servicing commercial and military planes. Beechcraft emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2013.The sale of Beechcraft to Cessna Aircraft's parent company, Textron, is expected to close this year.


Miss Kansas Bags Buck During Bow Hunt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Miss Kansas traded evening gowns for camouflage when she went out on a deer bow hunt this winter in southeast Kansas. Theresa Vail joined a December hunt in the Pratt area organized by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, JB Outfitters and Realtree Outdoors, which taped the hunt for a television show. The Kansas City Star reports that Vail has been hunting since her dad introduced her to the sport when she was 10. She took part in the hunt to get a chance to shoot a trophy buck and shatter a stereotype. The National Guard sergeant shot an 8-point buck in the final hour on the third day. She was scheduled to be a featured speaker at the Hunter's Expo in Overland Park, which ended Sunday.


MO Education Organizations Back School Plan

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri organizations representing teachers, administrators and school board members are supporting a plan for unaccredited districts as state education officials start digging into several proposals. The Missouri School Boards' Association said Monday the plan calls for a contract between the State Board of Education and unaccredited school districts. Districts would commit to improving their performance while the state would classify the districts as provisionally accredited. It would relieve the school systems from a Missouri law that requires unaccredited school districts to pay for students to transfer to higher-performing districts elsewhere. Kansas City and two school districts in St. Louis County are unaccredited. Numerous plans have been submitted to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The State Board of Education is holding a work session Monday.


Union Station in KC to Recreate King Tut's Tomb

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Union Station in Kansas City will be turned into Egypt this summer when visitors will re-create the discovery of King Tut's tomb. Station officials announced last week that the exhibit, "The Discovery of King Tut," will run from April 7th to September 7th. It is the largest exhibit ever attempted at the station, and will be the first stop for the exhibit in the United States. The Kansas City Star reports the exhibit is "virtual archaeology." It will recreate Egypt's Valley of the Kings, and allow visitors to enter the tomb chamber by chamber. In the chambers, they will find treasures placed where they were when King Tut was buried more than 3,300 years ago. At 20,000 square feet, the Tut exhibit will require five weeks to install.


KU Football Coach Shuffles Coaching Staff

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis is still tinkering with his coaching staff, moving Rob Ianello to director of research and adding the title of recruiting coordinator to running backs coach Reggie Mitchell. Ianello had previously been in charge of the Jayhawks' wide receivers, who struggled mightily during a 3-9 season a year ago. Weis said Monday that he will handle wide receivers and Ianello will spend most of his time on recruiting. The moves came after the Jayhawks wrapped up this year's recruiting class last week, and after new offensive coordinator John Reagan had a chance to review the coaching staff. Kansas begins spring practice March 4. The annual spring game is April 12.




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