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Regional Headlines for Monday, July 23, 2012

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Four Republican incumbents seeking re-election to the U.S. House are reporting significant advantages as they campaign to keep their jobs representing Kansas. Two of the incumbents, Representatives Tim Huelskamp of the 1st District and Kevin Yoder in the 3rd District, reported strong fund-raising figures to the Federal Election Commission for the period ending June 30th. Huelskamp is running unopposed in the August 7th primary and November general election. Yoder has a Libertarian challenger only in November. Representative Lynn Jenkins raised $350,000 in her bid for a third term representing the 2nd District. Her three Democratic challengers raised about $52,000 combined. Wichita Republican Representative Mike Pompeo raised more than $138,000 for his campaign, more than five times that raised by his Democratic challengers. He is seeking a second term in the 4th District.


Shawnee County DA Continues Open Meetings Probe of Governor's Dinner Events

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor's office is continuing its review of information into an investigation whether dinners at the governor's mansion violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Matt Patterson, spokesman for Taylor's office, says Monday that staff are reviewing the investigative reports and preparing to present a summary to Taylor. Patterson says the report should be completed in the coming weeks. The district attorney, a Democrat, is investigating seven dinners held at the governor's official residence in January. Republican members of 13 legislative committees were invited by GOP Governor Sam Brownback to attend the dinners, which sometimes combined two or three committees with related policy missions. Taylor launched his investigation this spring after receiving a complaint from The Topeka Capital-Journal and the Kansas Press Association.


Record-Setting Heat Continues Throughout the State of Kansas 

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — The mercury's rising and records are falling as the heat wave tightens its grip on Kansas. The Hays Daily News reports that extreme drought now covers two-thirds of the state. Norton's high of 118 on June 28 broke the previous high of 113 set three days earlier. The newspaper said Cedar Bluff hit 110 on June 26 and 29, tying the old record set June 15, 2003. Colby had a high of 113 on June 28. Oakley hit 111 on June 25 and 28th. That matched the previous June 11, 1954, high. High temperatures of 110 or above are becoming the new normal for many towns. But as the temperatures rise, water levels at rivers and streams in the northwest part of the state are falling.


USDA Secretary Makes Desperate Plea for Farm Bill Drought Aid

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Congress has no more important work now than to pass a farm bill that reinstates expired disaster assistance programs. Farmers are now experiencing the worst drought in decades. Programs authorized in the 2008 farm bill have expired and can't be reinstated unless the House approves a bill passed by the Senate. But House Republican leaders have not scheduled a vote. Vilsack toured drought-stricken Iowa farms Monday. He says farmers will be allowed to expand use of acres placed in a conservation program to grow hay and graze. Farmers also may sell hay from conservation land for the first time to help neighbors desperately in need of cattle feed. The government also has asked crop insurers to forego interest charges on unpaid premiums through November 1.


Governor Brownback to Resume Kansas Drought Tour

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is resuming his tour of Kansas counties to see the impact of the intense drought on agriculture and communities. The Republican governor is scheduled to travel Tuesday to two stops in Trego County and one each in Graham and Sheridan Counties. Last week Brownback toured areas in central and southeastern Kansas. State water officials will accompany Brownback on the tour. The governor's office has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare 37 more counties disasters, making farmers there eligible for USDA disaster assistance programs. If the request is approved, that would mean 103 of the state's 105 counties will have been declared primary federal disaster areas. The two that are not, Marshall and Washington, border primary counties and would receive disaster declarations as contiguous counties.


Kansas Congressional Candidate Changes Name

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Libertarian candidate for a Congressional seat in Kansas has changed his name to Thomas Jefferson. The U.S. House of Representatives candidate formerly known as Jack Talbert is seeking to unseat Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, in Kansas's 4th District. Pompeo also faces two Democratic opponents, Esau Freeman and Robert Tillman. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Talbert changed his name to Thomas Jefferson recently as a way to pay tribute to his idol and possibly win some votes. He says when people see the name on the ballot it will make them think about the founding fathers and "whether we have that form of government still." The Kansas Libertarian Party supports Jefferson's name change, and says it included legal documents proving the switch when it filed his candidacy with the state.

Acting Commerce Secretary Makes Stop in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank is coming to Kansas City to talk up President Obama's plans to create jobs. Blank will be in Kansas City at midday Monday to tour an engineering and fabrication company, before joining Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders for a news conference. Blank is expected to tout Obama's efforts to press Congress for legislation that rewards businesses that hire American workers and erase tax breaks for companies sending jobs overseas. President Obama's Republican rival Mitt Romney hit the campaign trail Monday, with plans to discuss his advocacy for small business with a roundtable discussion in California.

Kansas Officials Say New Law Improves Child Care

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State officials say a law passed two years ago has dramatically improved child care in Kansas, and improved the state's reputation for the quality of its small family child care operations. The 2010 law is known as Lexie's Law, after a 13-month-old girl who died after from injuries she suffered at a Johnson County day care in 2004. Among other things, it requires training for day care providers. It also requires day cares that take in up to six children to be regularly inspected. In the past, those small day cares were inspected only in response to complaints. The Wichita Eagle reports that five years ago, Kansas ranked 46th in the country for policies that govern child care centers. This year, a national organization rated Kansas third.

Kansas Man Gets New Trial in Fatal Accident

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Wellsville man who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a fatal traffic accident will get a new trial. A panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals on Friday reversed Roger Shaw's 2009 conviction for involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence. The accident near Wellsville killed 21-year-old Aaron Kichler of Wellsville. The appeals court sent the case back to Franklin County for a new trial, ruling that state did not prove that Shaw was trying to flee when he hit Kichler. That was one of three claims necessary for a conviction. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Shaw's truck turned in front of Kichler's motorcycle. Shaw's blood alcohol level was .11, above the legal limit. Court records show Shaw had three previous convictions of driving under the influence.

New 300-Employee Call Center to Open in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Florida-based company plans to open a call center in downtown Lawrence, bringing about 300 new jobs to the city. The Results Companies has signed a lease to take over a space in the lower level of the former Riverfront Mall. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Dania Beach, Florida-based company handles customer service operations for several Fortune 500 companies. Doug Brown, a broker who negotiated the deal, says the company is expected to begin operations by September 1. Results operates six U.S. call centers and four international centers.


Governor Appoints New Kansas District Court Judge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has appointed a Leawood attorney to fill a vacancy in on the Johnson County District Court.  The Republican governor announced Monday that Christina Marie Dunn will fill the opening on the 10th District bench. She replaces Judge Allen R. Slater, who is retiring.  Dunn is a partner with the Gellenborg and Dunn law firm in Olathe. She received her law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1994. Dunn has previously worked for the Johnson County Bar Association board of directors and in the 10th Judicial District Attorney's office. Brownback selected Dunn from three candidates submitted for consideration by the 10th Judicial District Nominating Commission.


Former Wichita Bookkeeper Sentenced for Wire Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former bookkeeper for a Wichita-based chain of radio stations has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for embezzling more than $2 million. Fifty-one-year-old William H. Nolan of Wichita also was ordered Monday to pay restitution of more than $2 million to companies where he worked. Nolan pleaded guilty last December to one count of wire fraud. In his plea, Nolan admitted embezzling from LS Media, Steckline Communications; Mid-America Ag Network; and Broadcast Technical Associates LLC. He admitted issuing company checks to pay for his personal credit cards and using electronic transfers to buy personal property for himself and his family.

Man Hurt While Fleeing from Topeka Police

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man has suffered serious injuries after crashing a car while fleeing from Topeka police. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that the chase started early Saturday when an officer attempted to pull over the car for a traffic violation. Lieutenant Scott Gilchrist says the driver fled through a residential neighborhood before his vehicle flipped over. The driver was ejected and taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.


American Idol TV Show to Host Tryouts in Kansas and Missouri

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Auditions for "American Idol" are being planned in some smaller cities, as the hit television show goes in search of singing talent for its 12th season. The FOX network has announced that the show's new "Small Town Audition Bus Tour" is scheduled to make stops in Joplin, Missouri; Dodge City, Kansas; Grand Junction, Colorado; and Iowa City, Iowa. It's all part of a 10-city tour that is also slated to stop in Kentucky, Mississippi, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Specific dates, times and locations have yet to be announced. The show also is taking nominations for people who may not think of trying out themselves, and it's accepting online video submissions for two weeks, starting August 1.

2 Kansas Men Plead Guilty to Wire Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two Wichita men have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from allegations that they listed stolen goods for sale online. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says in a release Monday that 23-year-old Jordan Smith pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud. He says 21-year-old Thomas Griffin pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting wire fraud. Prosecutors said the scheme involved listing more than $115,000 worth of stolen personal property for sale on Craigslist. The stolen goods included building materials and supplies, machinery, appliances and jewelry. Sentencing is set for October 15.


2 Men Plead Guilty in Tax Fraud Case in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two men have pleaded guilty to their part in a nationwide tax fraud scheme that federal prosecutors say sought to defraud the government of about $100 million. The U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas City said in a release Monday that Robert E. Morris, of Rocklin, California, and Earl Lee Davis of Monroe, Louisiana, admitted in federal court that they participated in a conspiracy that promoted a tax refund scheme across the U.S. from 2008 to 2011. Morris and Davis are among about a dozen defendants charged in the case. Prosecutors say the group received more than $3.5 million of the total $96 million in attempted fraudulent refunds.


Missing Missouri Nursing Home Patient Found Dead

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 75-year-old patient at a Kansas City nursing home has been found dead in a creek. George Macias was reported missing from his north Kansas City nursing home before noon Sunday. Police searched for Macias for hours when temperatures were above 100. Volunteers with the Missouri Search and Rescue canine unit found Macias's body about 9 pm. He was face down in a creek behind a home about a mile and a half from the nursing home. Police said it appeared he had fallen. The Kansas City Star reports that foul play is not suspected but that police are awaiting autopsy results to show the cause of death. Police said Macias, who had Alzheimer's, had wandered away from the nursing home before.

Nebraska Mom Who Married at 14 Tries to Regain Custody of Children

FALLS CITY, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska mom whose marriage at age 14 generated headlines is trying along with her husband to regain custody of their children. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that 21-year-old Crystal Koso and 29-year-old Matthew Koso were in court last week. The couple's three children and one child fathered by another man while Koso was in prison for impregnating Crystal Koso at age 13 have been in state custody since 2010. The couple drew national attention in 2005 after Crystal Koso became pregnant and they married in Hiawatha, Kansas with her mother's permission. At the time, such a marriage was allowed with parental consent. The case led Kansas lawmakers to set a minimum marriage age of 15. Nebraska state law allows people as young as 17 to marry with parental consent.

Lawrence Discussing Establishment of Village for Older Adults

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Residents of east Lawrence are considering a proposal to build a special village for older adults. The proposal from a nonprofit organization involves a village that would be run by its members, who pay an annual fee. Residents would have one number to call for services and programs, which would be provided by volunteers or at discounted prices. The Lawrence Journal-World reports activities such as classes, trips and social gatherings also would be provided. About 70 people attended a community meeting Thursday night to discuss the possibility. Village to Village Network national director Judy Willett told the crowd that each village is different, and can range from 150 to 450 members. The average annual fee is $300 and most villages help low-income individuals with funding.


Hutchinson Group Seeks Inmates' Transitional Home

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A nonprofit group in the Hutchinson area is working to turn an abandoned nursing home complex into a transitional stop for inmates just released from prison.The group, called Prairie Lighthouse, recently bought the buildings with the goal of converting them into a place where inmates can live, learn skills and earn some money as they move back into society.One of the board's members, Glenn Miller Sr., says Prairie Lighthouse is a Christian organization made up of Mennonite churches in Reno County. The Hutchinson News reports Prairie Lighthouse plans to have one building house the inmates and another to teach the inmates trades. The plans are in the early stages, with the group having filed for a special-use permit with the city of South Hutchinson.


Earhart Searchers Returning to Hawaii Without Plane Pics 

HONOLULU (AP) — A $2.2 million expedition that hoped to find wreckage from Amelia Earhart's final flight is on its way back to Hawaii without the dramatic, conclusive plane images searchers were hoping to attain. But the president of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery tells The Associated Press the group still believes Earhart and her navigator crashed onto a reef off a remote island in the Pacific Ocean 75 years ago this month. Pat Thrasher said Monday that the group has a significant amount of video and sonar data to pore over to look for things that may be tough to see at first glance. Thrasher says the underwater environment with steep cliffs, caves and vegetation was tougher to navigate than searchers expected. The U.S. State Department encouraged the privately-funded voyage.

Stadium Birds Finding Fans at KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A family of red-tailed hawks has taken up residence on the University of Kansas campus. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that their presence is thrilling students. For the past three years, the hawk family has occupied a nest on a light pole at the northwest corner of Memorial Stadium. They dine on a campus pest — squirrels. The hawk family consists of a breeding pair and two or three juveniles. The collection manager of birds for the KU Biodiversity Institute, Mark Robbins, says they can go through three or four squirrels or other rodents a week. Associate athletic director Brad Nachtigal says the hawks are welcome to stay as long as they like.

Harveyville Church to Rise from Twister Debris

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The northeast Kansas town of Harveyville is firming up plans to rebuild after its historic church building was destroyed in a killer tornado. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that a building committee for the Wabaunsee County town's United Methodist Church met this past week to talk about the project. Plans call for a one-story structure to be built on the same land where the former building stood for more than 100 years. It was leveled nearly five months ago in an EF2 tornado packing winds of up to 130 miles per hour. One person was killed in the tornado, and about a dozen others were injured. The Reverend Dennis Irwin calls the reconstruction "very exciting." One goal is to have a dedicated space in the new building for a food pantry.

KU Med School's Wichita Campus Seeking Business Trash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas School of Medicine has an unusual request for businesses. The school's Wichita campus wants to sort through their trash as part of a project aimed at reducing the amount of waste going to landfills. The trash assessments are free and take about an hour to complete. The Wichita Eagle reported that funding for the program comes through an Environmental Protection Agency cooperative agreement. Participating businesses face no addition regulations but can receive recognition for reducing their waste. School officials say they had an assessment performed on the school last summer and a follow-up assessment performed this spring. The initial assessment showed that 85 percent of the materials it placed in the trash could have been recycled.

Fire at Wichita Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — About 20 adult residents at a Wichita drug and alcohol treatment center will spend a few days at temporary shelters after a fire damaged the center. Wichita fire department spokesman Lieutenant Kelly Zane says no one was injured in Sunday's fire at the living quarters of the Atishwin Institute. It caused about $25,000 in damage. Zane says the fire apparently was started by power cords. The American Red Cross is temporarily providing shelter to the center's residents.

Vietnam Vets Still Waiting for Special License Plates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Vietnam veterans in Kansas are still waiting for the state to issue special license plates to honor them. The plates were supposed to be available on January 1, under a law passed by the 2010 Kansas Legislature. Jeannine Koranda, spokeswoman for the state revenue department, says the plate design wasn't final until recently. And after 50 plates were distributed earlier this month, officials discovered that they did not have the sequential numbers required by law enforcement. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Koranda says corrections are being made but she doesn't know when the plates might be available to Vietnam veterans. Jim Gregory of Wichita says he and many other Vietnam veterans are getting impatient waiting for the plates.


Missouri Couple Pleads Not Guilty to Child Endangerment Charges

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City couple has pleaded not guilty to charges after their malnourished 8-year-old niece was found locked in a bedroom. The Kansas City Star reports that 34-year-old Jeffrey Kraft, and 28-year-old Michele Buckner-Kraft, pleaded not guilty Monday in Jackson County (Missouri) court to charges of assault and child endangerment. Their bonds were kept at $100,000. They were charged Friday after a two-week investigation that stemmed from a call to the child abuse hotline. Authorities said the child weighed 42 pounds when she was found July 5 in a room that smelled of urine and trash. She had lost six pounds since she was 5 and in kindergarten, the last time she attended school. No attorney is listed for either of the Krafts in online court records.

Kansas City Police Fatally Shoot Man

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man shot by Kansas City police during a standoff at a home has died. Police say 58-year-old Danny L. Walsh died Sunday night at a Kansas City hospital. He was shot Sunday afternoon after police responded to a report of shots fired at a home in south Kansas City. Walsh had several weapons and went in and out of the house several times after officers arrived. Police say Walsh was shot when he aimed a rifle at police.


Kansas Climbers Improvise Challenges Due to Lack of Mountains

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Saturday's midmorning sun and temperatures, already in the mid-90s, didn't discourage some folks from plastering themselves against a hot concrete wall and climbing. They were smiling as they scaled a 100-foot wall of an abandoned concrete plant, which serves as cliffs for members of the Kansas Cliff Club, near 47th Street South and K-15. The nonprofit, grassroots club was established in 1998 shortly after avid climbers J.F. Dumont and his wife, Chantale Kirouac, moved to Wichita from Montreal when he took a job at Boeing. They saw the old plant as the perfect spot to establish walls that simulate the cliffs and obstacles encountered on the real stuff in such places as the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma and Horseshoe Canyon or Sam's Throne in Arkansas. From a handful of members, the club has grown to about 125 - ranging in age from 8 to 80.


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