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Regional Headlines for Monday, July 29, 2013


Appointments on Agenda for Special Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Majority Leader Terry Bruce says the Kansas Senate will be required by state laws to consider multiple appointments during a special legislative session called for September. Bruce told The Associated Press Monday that the Senate will be required to have votes on confirming as many as 19 appointments from Governor Sam Brownback. They include Brownback's nominee for a new Kansas Court of Appeals judgeship. The governor has until August 29 to make the appointment, and the special session is scheduled to convene September 3. Brownback called the special session last week to rewrite the state's "Hard 50" criminal sentencing law after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June raised questions about its constitutionality. He and legislative leaders had hoped to limit the special session to that one issue.


Top Kansas Democrat Says Session About Judge Approval 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate's top Democrat is questioning Governor Sam Brownback's motives for calling a special legislative session. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley said Monday that Brownback called the September 3 session to gain quick approval of a coming appointment to the state Court of Appeals and avoid scrutiny of his nominee. Brownback must nominate the judge by August 29. Brownback asked lawmakers to rewrite a state law allowing judges to sentence convicted murderers to 50 years in prison before being eligible for parole. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month raised questions about the law's constitutionality. But Senate GOP leaders said Monday that state law will require the Senate to consider the judicial appointment during the special session rather than waiting until the regular session in January.


Analysis: Kansas Legislators Must Limit Focus During Special Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — With Kansas officials voicing strong support for quickly rewriting the state's "Hard 50" criminal sentencing law, the biggest issue facing the Legislature's leaders during its coming special session could be finding a way to keep lawmakers' focus from wandering. Governor Sam Brownback called the special session last week. It is scheduled to convene on September 3rd. His action was in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision last month that raised questions about the law's constitutionality. The statute allows judges to sentence convicted murderers to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years. Brownback and legislative leaders don't believe the special session needs to last more than a few days. But a governor can't limit the scope of a special session. State laws may compel the Senate to consider Brownback appointments.


Dozens of Kansas GOP Lawmakers to Attend ALEC Event

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republican leaders in the Kansas House and Senate are among more than two dozen state legislators who plan to participate in a national convention of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Critics say that the organization is dedicated to intertwining a corporate agenda and politics at state Capitols. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that House Speaker Ray Merrick of Stilwell and Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita are national board members of the group. They are scheduled to lead the Kansas delegation to the Chicago convention August 7 through August 9. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, says he plans to ask legislative leaders about spending state dollars for the ALEC meeting after the 2013 Legislature dropped membership in the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments.


Kansas AG Awards Funds to Crime Victims

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state board has awarded a total of $274,000 to 126 Kansas crime victims who filed claims with the state attorney general's office. The funds were distributed during the monthly meeting of the Kansas Crime Victim's Compensation Board. The program helps victims of violent crime pay for unexpected expenses, such as medical treatment, mental health services, lost wages and funeral costs. Awards are funded from money recovered from convicted offenders, such as court fees, inmate wages, parole fees and restitution. The board meets periodically to review claims and can award up to $25,000 to each victim. July's awards covered 43 new cases filed with the board and 83 that were previously submitted.


Goodyear, Steelworkers Reach Tentative Agreement

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and United Steelworkers have reached a tentative agreement on workers at six plants, avoiding a strike just two hours before a deadline. Both sides sent out statements after reaching a compromise on a new labor contract at 10 pm Saturday. They have been negotiating in Cincinnati since April. Goodyear steelworkers last went on strike in 2006 for three months. A majority of union members still must ratify the agreement. The union says it would cover about 8,500 employees at six plants, including the one in Topeka. Others are in Buffalo, New York; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Danville, Virginia; Gadsden, Alabama; and Akron, Ohio.


Judge to Ponder Kansas Abortion Lawsuit Schedule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge is considering the schedule for a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood challenging parts of a new Kansas abortion law. Chief Judge Kathryn Vratil had said she'd consider whether to set a hearing in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, during a Monday afternoon telephone conference call with attorneys. She's said she will set deadlines for lawyers for the state and Planned Parenthood to file legal briefs. Planned Parenthood performs abortions at its clinic in Overland Park. The new law took effect July 1. The lawsuit challenges a requirement that providers have a link on their website home pages to a state health department site on abortion and fetal development and declare that the department's information is objective and accurate. Providers dispute the veracity of some information on the state site.


Topeka Police Shoot and Kill Man with Knife

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police chief Ron Miller says a city police officer shot and killed a man who charged at officers and bystanders with a knife. The shooting happened Monday morning at the Knightsbridge Apartments in Topeka. Miller says three officers went to the complex after management asked police to check on a resident who was acting strangely. Miller says the man was combative with police officers and told them to go away. He says the man eventually chased officers and other residents with the knife, prompting one officer to fire several shots. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. His name has not been released. The officer who fired the shots has been placed on administrative leave.


Trial Set in Killing of Fort Riley Soldier

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A November trial has been set for a Manhattan man charged with killing a Fort Riley soldier and wounding four other people earlier this year. Forty-three-year-old Matthew Wilson appeared Monday in Riley County District Court on one count of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder. A judge entered not guilty pleas after Wilson stood silent. Wilson is accused of bursting into a Manhattan apartment the morning of April 7 and fatally shooting 22-year-old Army Sergeant Michael Lowery. A second soldier and two women who were in the apartment were shot and wounded. Authorities said the two soldiers rented the unit at the University Gardens Apartments complex, where Wilson also lived. Wilson remains in the Riley County Jail pending trial scheduled for the week of November 18.


Hacking Suspect Set to Plead in Koch Cyberattack

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wisconsin man accused of joining a cyberattack staged by the computer hacking group Anonymous on Wichita-based Koch Industries is expected to plead guilty in the case. A formal notice of intent to change a plea was filed Monday for 37-year-old Eric J. Rosol of Black Creek, Wisconsin. Rosol was indicted in March on one federal count each of damaging a computer and conspiracy to damage a computer. Prosecutors allege Anonymous asked conspirators in February 2011 to undertake a cyberattack using a tool that could send a high volume of repeated requests to various Koch Industries websites. Numerous conspirators complied, and the company's main website,, crashed. Rosol's change-of-plea hearing is scheduled for September 11 in federal court in Wichita.


Lyon County Cleaning Up Spill in Cottonwood River

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Lyon County authorities are investigating to determine the source of a substance that leaked into the Cottonwood River over the weekend. Authorities at first believed the substance discovered in the river Sunday afternoon was some type of oil but later determined it was a naturally-occurring substance that was not hazardous or toxic. Lyon County officials say the river water quality was not damaged. Hazardous waste teams from Emporia and Topeka, as well as several county, state and federal agencies, responded to the spill or were involved in testing the material. KVOE reports that the exact material involved has not been determined. Officials also don't know where it originated. The Emporia water department confirmed the water is safe for drinking and all uses. 


Topeka Man Dies After Being Hit by Train

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a 50-year-old deaf man died after he was struck and killed by a train. Topeka police Lieutenant Mike Cross says the man's death Sunday evening in north Topeka is being investigated as an accident. The man had stayed at the Topeka Rescue Mission in the past and apparently was headed there when he was hit. Two other men who were with the man crawled under a train that was parked on the tracks. They made it across but the victim didn't likely because he couldn't hear the oncoming train. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the man was still alive when he was taken from the scene but died later at a hospital.


1 Person Killed When Plane Crashes in Central Kansas

RUSSELL, Kan. (AP) — A southwest Kansas man is killed when his small airplane crashes into a field north of Wilson Lake in Russell County. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the pilot, 65-year-old Rufus Woods III of Cimarron, was alone when the single-engine plane went down around 12:20 pm Sunday in central Kansas. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to be at the scene Monday. The Highway Patrol and Federal Aviation Administration also are investigating the crash.


Storm Chasers Say Their Efforts Help Save Lives

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Despite criticism leveled against storm chasers after a May tornado in Oklahoma, some storm chasers say they deserve respect for their efforts to collect data during vicious weather. Four storm chasers — three professionals and one amateur — died in the El Reno tornado. Mike Smith, senior vice president for AccuWeather, says he's bothered by the criticism of storm chasers after the El Reno, Oklahoma tornado. He recently told the Downtown Rotary in Wichita that meteorological research has helped saved thousands of lives every year. The Wichita Eagle reports that some storm chasers say they have received a lot of compliments since the El Reno tornado. Wichita storm chaser Jim Reed says most people are grateful that he and other professional storm chasers work to make them safer.


Infant's Body Found in Kansas City Trash Truck

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri police say the death of an infant whose body was found in a trash truck is being investigated as a homicide. The truck drivers discovered the body Monday morning. The truck's route includes only homes, not commercial trash bins. Police say it's unclear where the trash truck picked up the body. They aren't saying what gender the baby was, or how old the child appeared to be.


KCMO Officer Fatally Shoots Man Who Won't Drop Gun

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri police officer fatally shot a man who refused to drop his weapon following a foot chase downtown. The Kansas City Star reports police responded to a report of something being stolen around 3 am Sunday near 13th Street and Grand Avenue. Police say they began chasing the suspect, who pulled out a gun when they approached him. The officer shot him when he refused to put it down. The suspect was pronounced dead at a hospital and the officer is on administrative leave while the shooting is being investigated. It's the second officer-involved shooting in the metro area this weekend. A Kansas City, Kansas officer shot a motorist who pinned her between two cars Saturday, but neither she nor the suspect was seriously injured.

KCMO Parks Dept. Damages Trees in Effort to Track Ash Borer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City parks officials are deliberately damaging some ash trees in the city in an effort to save other trees. The parks department is cutting bark off the sides of about 700 ash trees to determine where to focus its efforts to eradicate the emerald ash borer. The beetle kills ash trees by feeding on their bark. The 700 trees that have been examined will be checked in the fall so the parks department can track which Kansas City neighborhoods are harboring the insect. The Kansas City Star reports the 700 ash trees are all on public land and were already destined for removal. The emerald ash borer has been found in 22 states, including Missouri and Kansas.

New Kansas Law Legalizes More Kinds of Knives

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas residents may now carry switchblades, daggers and other types of knives in most public places without fear of arrest. A new law that took effect July 1st lifted the state's ban on several kinds of bladed instruments. Governor Sam Brownback signed the measure shortly after legislators approved it in April. The Topeka Capital Journal reports the driving force was a national group called Knife Rights. The group contends the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear knives as well as firearms. Knife rights lobbyist Todd Rathner says the law makes Kansas one of the knife-friendliest states in the nation. That's because it also prohibits local governments from enforcing any type of knife ordinance. The law does contain exemptions for school districts, jails and juvenile detention facilities.

Tax Deduction for Kansas Gambling Losses Nixed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas gamblers will still be able to deduct part of their losses on their income tax forms this year, but starting next year that deduction will be eliminated. Amid haggling over income and sales tax rates, doing away with the little-used gambling deduction was a popular idea among lawmakers during their session earlier this year. The Topeka Capital Journal reports the bill that included gambling losses cut most deductions by 30 percent for the 2013 calendar year. Starting in 2014 items like the home mortgage deduction will be gradually stepped down to 50 percent by 2018, but the gambling loss deduction is being wiped out completely. No lawmakers stepped forward to defend the gambling deduction, and there has been little public opposition to the move.

Only 1 Proposal Submitted for Clinton Lake Resort

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — An opportunity to build a resort at Clinton Lake State Park has drawn little interest from developers. State officials said only one developer submitted a proposal by Friday's deadline. Overland Park-based LodgeWell Resorts submitted the proposal to build a 175-room hotel, resort and conference facility at the park near Lawrence. Details of LodgeWell's proposal were not released. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that several development firms attended a pre-proposal meeting for the project earlier this month. At the meeting, state officials said a study found support for the resort, which would include outdoor sports center with activities ranging from hiking to water sports. Chuck Knapp, director of operations for the Kansas Department of Administration, says a state committee will review the project proposal. Knapp said officials hope to make an announcement this fall.


Missouri Woman Sentenced for Identity Theft, Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City woman who used fake and stolen identities to lease cars, rent apartments and open bank accounts has been sentenced to five years and six months in federal prison. The U.S. Attorney's office says 25-year-old Deshonda Latrice Anderson must also pay nearly $40,000 in restitution under the sentence she received Monday. Federal prosecutors said Anderson defrauded at least 39 individuals, businesses and banks in a four-month span after moving to Kansas City from Texas in February 2012. The scheme involved fake names, phony and stolen Social Security numbers, bad checks, forged earning statements and other documents. Anderson was indicted in June 2012. Court records show she pleaded guilty in January to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.


Kansas Lottery Reports Another $1 Million Ticket Sold

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Lottery officials say someone in northeast Kansas bought a $1 million Powerball ticket for the Saturday night drawing. It's the second week in a row that a $1 million win was recorded in Kansas. The lucky ticket matched the first five numbers, but not the Powerball. The winning numbers are 9-23-40-53-58, with Powerball 6. Last week, Nelson Worley, of Osawatomie, matched the first five numbers in the July 20 Powerball drawing to win $1 million. The Powerball jackpot increased to an estimated $235 million for Wednesday's drawing.


Judge Rules KC Charter School Can Stay Open

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a Kansas City charter school that Missouri education officials tried to close can remain open. The state Board of Education voted in May against renewing the charter of Gordon Parks Elementary School, citing low academic performance. The vote followed a recommendation from the Missouri education department. KMBC-TV reports that a judge in Jefferson City ruled Monday the state's actions were unreasonable and arbitrary. The decision by Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green follows a hearing last week at which Gordon Parks officials argued the state failed to allow time for efforts to improve test scores to take effect. The school had about 240 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. But many have left, and it's not certain which grades it will serve when classes begin next month.


Kansas Wesleyan Plans New Athletic Complex

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The new president of Kansas Wesleyan University is proposing a new $7.5 million athletic complex for the school in Salina. Matt Thompson, who has been president for only three months, says the current Glenn Martin Stadium would be torn down and the new complex would be built on that site. The Salina Journal reports that the primary hurdle is funding. Thompson said $2.8 million has been raised and the school will borrow $1 million. Wesleyan is seeking a $1.2 million challenge grant from the Mabee Foundation, leaving $2.5 million to be raised by January 1. Thompson says it's unclear if the project will continue if funding falls short. Wesleyan has played its home football and soccer games at Salina Stadium since 2006, when Martin Stadium was deemed unusable.

KU Men's Basketball Team to Meet Wake Forest in Battle 4 Atlantis

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — The University of Kansas men's basketball team, featuring highly recruited freshman forward Andrew Wiggins, will face Wake Forest on Thanksgiving in the opening round of the third annual Battle 4 Atlantis. The other first-round matchups announced Monday are: Villanova against Southern California and first-year coach Andy Enfield, who led Florida Gulf Coast on its NCAA tournament run in March; Xavier, in its first season as a member of the Big East, meeting Iowa; and Tennessee facing UTEP. The Kansas-Wake Forest winner will meet the Villanova-Southern California winner in one semifinal on November 29. The championship game is November 30 in the Imperial Arena, a grand ballroom converted to a basketball venue. Harvard beat Central Florida in the inaugural tournament and Duke defeated Louisville last season.


Hunt Open to Extending Chiefs' Stay in St. Joseph


ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt says he's pleased with setup of training camp at Missouri Western State University and would be in favor of extending the team's stay beyond next season. The Chiefs are in the fourth year of a five-year deal to stage training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., about a 90-minute drive north from Arrowhead Stadium. Many teams have eschewed going away for camp as they build gleaming new practice digs, but Hunt said he appreciates the camaraderie that is built through players living in dorms. Hunt said it would be possible to have camp in Kansas City, but there would be hurdles to overcome. Dining facilities are limited and there's less room for fans. Hunt said the Chiefs will evaluate their future in St. Joseph after this year.


Reids' Chiefs Get Tackling Early in Training Camp


ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt admitted to cringing on Monday when he stopped by to see his team practice through intermittent rain just four days into training camp. The sight of Jamaal Charles hauling himself off the soggy turf has that effect. Under new coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs are going full speed and tackling to the ground less than a week into their workouts at Missouri Western. Reid calls it the "thudding" portion of practice, and there was plenty of it for thousands of fans who braved the elements. Charles took a couple of solid shots. Tight end Tony Moeaki received a blow just above his surgically reconstructed knee. Wide receiver Dexter McCluster also took a hard hit. Reid promised a physical training camp. He's already starting to deliver.


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