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Regional Headlines for Monday, June 17, 2013




Kobach: Court Ruling Won't Block KS Voter Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says the state's proof-of-citizenship requirement for new voters can still be enforced after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against a similar Arizona law. Kobach says the Kansas law differs enough from Arizona's version that the high court's Monday decision doesn't apply to Kansas. County election officials in Kansas said they were waiting for guidance from Kobach. But Kobach's position could prompt a federal lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union. The law took effect in January and applies to people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas. They must provide a birth certificate, passport or some other proof of citizenship. The Supreme Court said the Arizona law conflicted with federal voting laws.


Quivira Hunting Proposal Worries Conservationists

STAFFORD, Kan. (AP) — Conservationists are raising concerns that a proposal to expand hunting at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge could endanger whooping cranes that migrate through the south-central Kansas refuge. Currently, the refuge is closed when the whooping cranes, which are an endangered species, stop on their annual migration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering allowing hunting when the cranes are at Quivira but put areas the birds are known to frequent off limits. There's also interest in allowing deer and turkey hunting at the refuge, which currently is banned. The Lawrence Journal-World reports conservationists say the changes but the whooping cranes at risk, and would change the purpose of the refuge to accommodate hunting. There are only about 600 whooping cranes remaining in the world.


Rain Slows Kansas Winter Wheat Harvest in Kiowa

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Rain has slowed the start of the Kansas winter wheat harvest in south-central Kansas. Steve Inslee, the manager of the OK Co-op grain elevator in Kiowa, said Monday a few local farmers began hauling in wheat last Thursday. He says the harvest is not close to being in full swing in the area because much of the wheat is still green and not ready to cut. The elevator in Kiowa has taken in just 140,000 bushels of wheat during the last four days. Test weights have been averaging around 59 pounds per bushel. Inslee says wheat quality has been all over the board. Kiowa got less than a half inch of rain early Monday, far less than the pouring rain that fell across south-central Kansas.


KS Guard Members Returning from Afghanistan

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Members of a Kansas National Guard helicopter unit are on their way home from Afghanistan after a year of providing medical support. A welcome-home ceremony is scheduled Tuesday for about 20 members of Detachment 2, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment. The event is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at the Salina Army Aviation Support Facility. Guard officials say the Black Hawk helicopter unit deployed last July 15. Members trained in Texas before heading to Afghanistan. The unit's duties included aeromedical evacuation, transport of patients and medical personnel and other support functions.


KS Man Convicted of Killing Relatives in MO

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A southeast Kansas man could face the death penalty after being convicted of murdering three of his relatives at their home in west-central Missouri. KOLR-TV reports a Clay County jury recommended the sentence Saturday for 47-year-old Robert Blurton, of Garnett, Kan. The same jury convicted Blurton late Friday of first-degree murder in the shootings of his aunt and uncle, Donnie and Sharon Luetjen (LOO'-chen), and their 15-year-old granddaughter, Taron Luetjen. The killings took place in June 2009 at the couple's home in Cole Camp. The trial was moved from Benton County to Clay County because of extensive publicity. Investigators said Blurton killed the three after a robbery. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 9. Online court records show Blurton's lawyer plans to file a motion for a new trial.


NW Kansas Man Sentenced for Murder

OBERLIN, Kan. (AP) — A northwest Kansas man convicted of shooting another man and wounding a woman as the couple slept has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison. Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office says 25-year-old Dylan Coryell of Oberlin was sentenced Monday in Decatur County District Court. Judge Preston Pratt gave Coryell slightly more than 17 years for intentional second-degree murder and 13 months for aggravated battery. The sentences will run concurrently. Coryell was convicted in March of shooting 22-year-old Corey Cook, also of Oberlin, and a female acquaintance as they slept the morning of Oct. 16, 2011. Witnesses testified Coryell had recently begun a relationship with the woman, who survived the shooting. Prosecutors said both men had been drinking and exchanging hostile text messages in the hours before the killing.


Marysville Recovering After Tornado Damage

MARYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Officials with northeast Kansas counties damaged by tornadoes and flooding in May are waiting to hear if the region will be eligible for disaster relief. An EF2 tornado hit Marshall County on May 27, causing significant damage to a business and 28 homes in Marysville. Tornadoes also touched down in Nemaha County on May 28 and flooding was reported across the region after rains of 9 to 12 inches. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the storms did not cause any serious injuries, but a preliminary estimate determined the storms did between $5 million and $6 million damage. Marshall and Nemaha counties declared a state of disaster emergency after the storms. The area needs to document a minimum of $3.9 million in damages to meet the threshold for state aid.


Ottawa Restaurant Focus of Investigation

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — A restaurant in northeast Kansas is the focus of an investigation by federal immigration officials.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the El Mezcal Mexican restaurant in Ottawa was closed Friday amid an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, a branch of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.  Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for Homeland Security Investigations, confirmed that special agents from Homeland Security conducted an operation at the restaurant Friday, with help from local law enforcement agencies.  He says the agency could not provide details about Friday's events because it was part of an ongoing criminal investigation.


Shawnee Man Electrocuted in Park

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A 27-year-old Shawnee man has died after he was electrocuted by a downed power line.  The Kansas City Star reports that Nicholas Moeder was in a Kansas City, Kansas park early Sunday when he tripped over the live power line and became entangled in it.  Lt. Kelli Bailiff with the Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office says a friend tried to pull Moeder away from the live power line, but kept getting shocked and was unable free him.  She says the heavy storms that hit the Kansas City area Saturday evening are believed to have knocked down the power line.


Kansas Mother to Face Trial in Baby's Death

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled a southeast Kansas woman will be tried for involuntary manslaughter, rather than murder, in the death of her 4-month-old son.  District Judge A.J. Wachter ordered 25-year-old Heather L. Buckalew bound over for trial last week. Buckalew was originally charged with second-degree murder in the August 2012 death of Memphis Cash Harvey.  The Joplin Globe reports that testimony at a preliminary hearing in May indicated that Buckalew fell asleep after drinking beer with her boyfriend. When he got up to go to work, he found the baby face down on a pillow near his sleeping mother. The boy could not be resuscitated.  A forensic pathologist ruled the child likely was smothered by his mother while they were sleeping.


Immigration Reform Group Meets in KCK, Protests Kris Kobach

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Immigration reform advocates gathered in Kansas City, Kansas and said contrary to popular rhetoric, most Kansans support immigration reform.  Organizers said the town hall meeting Saturday attracted hundreds of people from Kansas, Iowa, Colorado and Rhode Island.  The Kansas City Star reports that after the meeting a group also went to the Wyandotte County home of Kansas Secretary of State Kobach and left about 20 pairs of shoes at his doorstep. Armando Minjarez, a member of Sunflower Community Action, one of the event coordinators, said the shoes represent parents who've been deported since 2008.  Congress is battling over comprehensive immigration changes.  Kobach has built a national profile presenting tough policies on illegal immigration issues. He and his family apparently weren't home during the protest at his home.


KS Death Penalty Foe to Bike Ride for Repeal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A longtime opponent of the Kansas death penalty plans to bicycle 100 miles through northeast Kansas to push legislators to repeal the law.  Bill Lucero will attempt to make the ride Tuesday around Topeka and Shawnee County. He is expected to be joined by other death penalty opponents and members of a local bicycling club.  Lucero, whose father was murdered 40 years ago, has been a volunteer for several years with the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty.  Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994. No one has been executed under the law, which would take place at the Lansing Correctional Facility by lethal injection.  The last execution in Kansas was in June 1965 by hanging.


Wichita to Debate Gun Ordinance

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita area officials are trying to determine if they will seek a six-month exemption from a new state law that will allow permit holders to carry handguns in public buildings. Both the city council and the Sedgwick County commissioners will take up the issue this week.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the new state law goes into effect July 1, allowing permit holders to take concealed handguns into public buildings, including courthouses, police stations and libraries.  On Tuesday, city council members will vote on whether to seek the six-month exemption. County commissioners on Wednesday will consider whether to seek a similar delay for county-owned buildings. Other communities, including Shawnee and Reno counties, have already asked to delay the law's implementation.


Small Kansas Church Finds Stash of Old Bibles

ASHLAND, Kan. (AP) — A small rural Kansas church is celebrating what some might consider a gift from God.  A minister of the Presbyterian Church in Ashland says she was sorting through some boxes at the church when she found one filled with some unusual Bibles.  The 15 Bibles found by Minister Marsha Granberry were printed in several languages including Eskimo, Slavic, Cherokee, Russian, Chinese and Yiddish.  Most of the Bibles were printed in the 1920s and 1930s, except the Cherokee version, which apparently was printed in 1860.  Granberry says the Bibles are in pristine condition, with no watermarks, tears or underlining.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the monetary value of the Bibles hasn't been determined but the small congregation is considering putting them up for auction to pay for a badly-needed church bathroom.


Rossville Gets $532K for Streetscape Project

ROSSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Rossville has been awarded a $532,000 federal grant to help improve its downtown streetscape.  The Kansas Department of Transportation announced it has chosen 35 projects in Kansas to receive federal transportation enhancement funding, which KDOT will administer.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Rossville project was picked from among 91 applications. Applicants have to pay at least 20 percent of the project's costs.  Rossville city clerk, Linda Gentry, says the downtown streetscape project is expected to cost $665,000, which puts the city's share at $133,000.  Gentry said the Rossville City Council will likely consider issuing bonds to cover some of the city's share, while residents plan to work to raise money to pay the rest. Rossville is a city of about 1,150 people in northwest Shawnee County.


Tallgrass Prairie Holding Annual Butterfly Count

STRONG CITY, Kan. (AP) — The annual Flint Hills butterfly census is coming up, and officials at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve are inviting the public to take part.  The daylong count is scheduled to begin at 8:30am Saturday, starting at the preserve's stone barn on Kansas 177 just north of Strong City.  Officials say no experience with identifying butterflies is necessary. Volunteers are asked to bring binoculars, water, sunscreen and bug spray.  Last-minute walk-ins will be welcomed as volunteers are divided into groups for a full or half-day of counting.  The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is located in eastern Kansas' Chase County. It's a partnership of The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service.


KS Couple Killed in Southwest Missouri Crash

REEDS SPRING, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas couple has been killed in a traffic accident in southwest Missouri. The Salina Journal reports that 66-year-old Richard Blubaugh, and 60-year-old Dorothy Blubaugh, of McPherson, died after the car they were in collided with a pickup at an intersection Friday in Reeds Spring.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol says three Missouri residents in the pickup were injured in the crash.






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