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Regional Headlines for Monday, June 25, 2012


UPDATE: Kobach Responds to Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Law

PHOENIX (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is calling the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on an Arizona anti-illegal immigration law a "huge victory."  Kobach helped draft the Arizona law and has advised officials in other states wanting to crack down on illegal immigration. He says the decision will give Arizona and other states the authority to check the immigration status of someone they suspect is in the country illegally. Kobach, however, says the ruling is "not a complete victory" since the court threw out several key provisions, including one requiring all immigrants to carry registration papers. Kobach, a Republican, is a former University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor. Critics of the Arizona law say it would allow law enforcement to racially profile people.


Kobach: Ruling Means KS Has Green Light to Pursue Immigration Laws

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach says a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration law gives Kansas legislators a green light to pursue their own crackdown on illegal immigration.  Kobach, a former law professor who helped draft Arizona's law, said he's pleased with Monday's ruling in the Arizona case even though it struck down three of four provisions at issue. Critics of the Arizona law see the ruling as likely to hinder any push for something similar in Kansas. But Kobach says the high court upheld the heart of the Arizona statute. That section directs law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people stopped for other reasons with a reasonable suspicion that they're in the country illegally. Kobach says Kansas lawmakers can still pursue that policy and others.


Captured! 2nd Winfield Escapee Back in Custody

The second of two inmates who escaped from the Winfield Correctional Facility earlier this month is back in state custody.  Agents with the Enforcement, Apprehension and Investigations (EAI) unit of the Kansas Department of Corrections apprehended 52-year-old Robert Cook without incident late this (MON) morning in Byers, Kansas. The other escapee, 48-year-old Frank Crutchfield, was arrested at a residence in Wichita last week.  The two escaped the Winfield Correctional Facility in a state-owned truck which was found abandoned about 15 miles north of Winfield.  It's believed the two then stole a City of Douglass vehicle, a 2006 GMC Sierra.  City officials in Douglass say that vehicle was recovered this (MON) morning from a tow facility.


Investigators: Manhattan Salvation Army Fire Was Arson

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Investigators have ruled that a fire at a Salvation Army store in downtown Manhattan was intentionally set. KMAN-AM reports that damage from the blaze early Saturday is being estimated at $100,000 to the building and $50,000 to the contents. No arrests had been made as of Monday. The Riley County Police Department is working with the Fire Department on the investigation. Officials say they've determined the fire began in the middle part of the building, and accidental causes of the blaze have ruled out.


UPDATE: Wichita Work Release Inmate Back in Custody 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An inmate who failed to return to a Wichita work release facility during the weekend is back in custody. Forty-eight-year-old Pete Vazquez had been declared an escapee early Sunday. The Kansas Department of Corrections says he was apprehended late this (MON) morning. Details of the apprehension were not immediately released. The Corrections Department said Vazquez failed to return to the Wichita Work Release Center from his job with a construction company Saturday evening. Department spokesman Jan Lunsford says employers often call the facility to ask that release inmates stay longer. He says somebody called on Vazquez's behalf but it wasn't his work supervisor. KAKE-TV reports Vazquez was serving a sentence in a Finney County theft case. He had been at the work release facility since early February.


First Plaintiff to Sue in KS Remapping Case Submits Legal Bills

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Olathe woman who filed a federal lawsuit over political redistricting in Kansas is asking to have more than $45,000 in legal bills covered by the state, bringing its total potential cost to more than $700,000. Robyn Renee Essex, a Republican precinct committee woman from Olathe, submitted her request to the three federal judges who heard her lawsuit and redrew the state's political boundaries earlier this month. The judges drew new congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts to account for population changes over the past decade because the Legislature failed to do the job. The judges allowed 26 other individuals to join Essex as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Twenty of the 27 plaintiffs have asked have their legal costs covered, and their requests total almost $707,000.


Koch Brothers, Cato Institute Ready to End Lawsuits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Cato Institute and a pair of its billionaire shareholders say they're ready to settle two lawsuits over ownership of the libertarian-leaning, Washington-based think tank. Charles and David Koch, known nationally for supporting conservative causes and candidates, filed the lawsuits in their native Kansas. The billionaire brothers argued that since another shareholder died last year, they and the institute's CEO were the only ones left. CEO Ed Crane accused the brothers of trying to engineer what he called a hostile takeover. Both sides announced Monday that they had an agreement to restructure the institute so it would be governed by member-directors, not shareholders. The parties eventually expect to ask a judge to dismiss the litigation. The Koch brothers have been longtime shareholders in the institute, a research organization promoting free-market, small-government policies.


Kansas School Board Hopeful Attends Westboro Baptist Church

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas state school board candidate who thinks the state should stop teaching evolution in its public schools also attends Westboro Baptist, the Topeka church known for anti-gay protests worldwide. Jack Wu says that he decided to run for the State Board of Education after learning that Democratic incumbent Carolyn Campbell would otherwise be unopposed for a second term. She is also from Topeka and represents the 4th District of eastern Kansas. Campbell supports the state's current science standards, which treat evolution as a well-established, core scientific concept. But Wu's link to the Reverend Fred Phelps Senior's congregation that has created a buzz in education circles. Wu said he attends Westboro Baptist services and adheres to its teachings but isn't a full, baptized member.


First of 9 Defendants in Topeka Crime Spree Goes on Trial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The trial of the first of nine defendants charged in a crime spree that resulted in one woman's death has begun. Twenty-six-year-old Anceo D. Stovall of Topeka went on trial today (MON). He faces numerous charges, with the most serious being that of first-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Natalie Gibson. She and 42-year-old Lori Allison were shot outside their home last July 21. Stovall's trial will be followed by a series of trials of other defendants scheduled from July through October. Stovall's attorney, Jonathan Phelps, says he will present evidence that his client was not present when the two women were shot. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that four of the nine defendants have testified or have agreed to testify at the trials. Only one defendant has accepted a plea agreement.


Kansas to Receive Grants Aimed at Hiring Veterans

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas county and three cities will share nearly $482,000 from the U.S. Justice Department to hire military veterans for law enforcement jobs. The grants were announced Monday under the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services program, or COPS. In Kansas, the Dickinson County Sheriff's Department is receiving about $113,000. Grants of $125,000 are going to the Paola Police Department and the city of Andover, while the city of Liberal will receive about $118,000. All new positions funded by this year's grants must be filled by military veterans who have served at least 180 days since Sept. 11, 2001. In all, the Justice Department said it's awarding more than $111 million this year to public safety agencies nationwide to create or save about 800 law enforcement positions.


Hutchinson Real Estate Agents Warn of Craigslist Rental Scam

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson real estate agents are urging people in the market for rentals to keep an eye out for fraudulent ads on Craigslist. The Hutchinson News reports that in one recent case, someone copied information from an agency's listing for a home for sale and placed it on Craigslist as a rental. A woman became suspicious and discovered the information came from a RE/MAX listing, so she contacted the agency. Agents say scammers are trying to dupe people into either providing personal data or sending in a deposit check for the nonexistent rental opportunity. They say the best way to avoid such a scam is to meet with the landlord and go to the house, but never wire money.


KU Receives $1M Grant to Establish Professorship 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Medical Center will use a $1 million gift to create a physiology professorship. The university's endowment announced the gift today (MON) from Jim Osborn of Honolulu, Hawaii. The gift honors Osborn's daughter, who worked in physiology at the medical center in 1968 and 1969 before dying in a car accident in 1970. At the time of her death, Kathleen Osborn was a junior at the University of Missouri. Paul Cheney, chairman of the molecular and integrative physiology department, is the first recipient of the Kathleen M. Osborn Chair in Molecular and Integrative Physiology. Osborn and his wife, Marion, already established the Kathleen Osborn Lectureship at the KU Medical Center. Osborn also established the Marion M. Osborn Professorship for Reproductive Science at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.


Kansas City Area Auto Supplier to Receive State Aid

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — An automotive supplier is building a new facility in the Kansas City area with the help of up to $5.6 million of incentives from the state of Missouri. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon attended a groundbreaking ceremony today (MON) in Liberty for LMV Automotive Systems. The governor says the $42 million facility is expected to employ 156 people. LMV will supply welded body parts for the new Transit van being built by Ford Motor Co. at its plant in nearby Claycomo. The Missouri Department of Economic Development authorized LMV to receive more than $2 million of aid under the Quality Jobs program, $1.6 million in tax incentives under the Missouri BUILD program and $500,000 in job-training incentives. The state also awarded a $1.5 million grant to Liberty to fund infrastructure improvements around the new building.


Wichita Couple Pleads Guilty to Federal Tax Fraud 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The former owners of a Wichita home health care company have pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return. The U.S. Attorney's office says that 68-year-old Gerard Lessard and his 73-year-old wife, Betty Lessard, entered the pleas Monday in federal court. The couple owned a company called ProActive Health Care Inc. They admitted failing to report nearly $859,000 of income on their federal tax return for 2004. Sentencing is set for September 12. The plea agreement calls for the government to recommend home or community confinement followed by supervised released. The Lessards also agreed to be held liable for more than $690,000 in restitution.


Sentencing Looms for Kansas Man Convicted in Cheerleader's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man faces life behind bars in the death of a 14-year-old cheerleader whose burned body was found at the asphalt plant where he worked. Sentencing for 38-year-old Adam Longoria is set for tomorrow (TUE) before Barton County District Judge Hannelore Kitts. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, but his conviction for first-degree murder in Kansas carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole. Jurors at Longoria's trial in April of deliberated for fewer than four hours before convicting him for the August 2010 murder of Alicia DeBolt. To find Longoria guilty of capital murder, jurors had to determine he committed criminal sodomy, aggravated criminal sodomy or attempted rape during the killing. Jurors decided he committed all three. They also found him guilty of vehicle burglary and theft.


Mother of Abused Girl Arraigned

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City woman has been ordered held on $200,000 cash bond after police found her 10-year-old daughter locked in a closet. The child weighed 32 pounds when police freed her Friday after responding to a call from a child abuse hotline. The child was hospitalized, but her condition hasn't been released. The 29-year-old mother appeared today (MON) in Jackson County court on charges of assault, child abuse and endangerment. A judge entered a not guilty plea for the woman, who also requested a public defender. The Associated Press is not naming the mother to protect the child's identity. A probable cause statement says the mother told police she didn't let the girl leave the house because the child is malnourished and she would "get in trouble if someone saw her."


'Home on the Range' Cabin to Be Feted on July 4

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A party is planned to wish a cabin a happy 140th birthday. The cabin on Beaver Creek in Smith County is where Brewster Higley wrote a poem in 1873 that became the words to "Home on the Range." The July Fourth party will include music, food and plenty of gratitude to  Kansans who have helped save the cabin. The event will give Kansans a chance to see the cabin before a major restoration project starts. Contract bids for the project will be let this summer. The cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An estimated $80,000 to $100,000 is needed to restore it. The Wichita Eagle reports that $60,000 has been raised, including $2,000 from Kansas schoolchildren in a "Coins for the Cabin" fundraiser.


C-130s Being Deployed to Fight Colorado Wildfires

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Colorado's governor says military help is being called in to help crews at a wildfire that has prompted thousands of residents near Colorado Springs to flee. Governor John Hickenlooper said Saturday that two C-130 military transport planes from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs would assist.  At least 11,000 residents of Manitou Springs and other vacation towns nearby are evacuating. Thousands of tourists are leaving hotels, rental cabins and campgrounds. The fire has grown to consume more than 2,000 acres amid tinder dry conditions and gusty winds. The blaze remained zero percent contained by midday Sunday. Eight separate wildfires are burning across Colorado, which is seeing record-breaking heat.


Giant Cactus in Kansas Blooming, Likely Dying

CHASE, Kan. (AP) — A 3-story cactus that has brought national attention to a small central Kansas town is blooming for the first time in decades. And then it's expected to die. The Agave americana plant has been owned by Ed and Joyce Ward of Chase for 36 years. It was featured on a national news show and has drawn thousands of visitors to Chase. The plant normally grows in the southwest. It is popularly known as the century plant because it lives about 30 to 40 years, blooms, and then dies. The Wichita Eagle reports the plant has begun to bloom. Ed Ward says the top of the plant still hasn't bloomed but the center is giving way. And he says he expects the plant to be dead within days.


Dodge City Preparing to Welcome Disabled Bike Riders

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Dodge City is preparing to welcome 16 physically challenged veterans who are riding bicycles across the country to show people that they aren't defined by those challenges. The Sea 2 Shining Sea ride started in San Francisco on Memorial Day. It is scheduled to end in Virginia Beach on July 28. The riders will be in Dodge City tomorrow (TUE) through Thursday. The Dodge City Daily Globe reports that the city has several events planned to welcome the riders. They include a welcoming line when the riders arrive, dinners and admission to some of the city's Wild West attractions. 1st Sergeant Glen Goulet, who is battling lung cancer and Valley Fever, says all the participants in the ride want to show people with physical challenges that they can overcome anything.


Kansas Teen Makes Prom Dress from Duct Tape

SOLOMON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas teen has earned a spot as a finalist in a national design competition with a prom dress made entirely from duct tape. Brooke Wallace, of Solomon, says she spent more than 200 hours fashioning a western-style prom dress for herself and a suit for her date from 42 rolls of duct tape. She also created a purse and earrings for herself and a bolo tie, lariat, gun and holster for her date, all from duct tape. Wallace tells The Salina Journal the effort wasn't just for kicks: She and her date, Mark Aylward, could each win $5,000 scholarships and their school could get $5,000 too. The winners of the contest sponsored by Duck Tape will be chosen through online voting that runs through July 11th.


U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Portions of Arizona Immigration Law 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's crackdown on immigrants. But the court said today (MON) that one part of the law requiring police to check the status of someone they suspect is not in the United States legally could go forward. Even there, though, the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach helped draft the 2010 Arizona immigration enforcement law. He is known nationally for advising state officials about cracking down on illegal immigration, and he helped draft tough anti-illegal immigration laws in Alabama. 

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


Inmate Disappears from Wichita Work Release Program 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement agencies are looking for an inmate who didn't return to his work release facility during the weekend. The Kansas Department of Corrections says Pete Vazquez was due back from his job with a construction company Saturday evening. He was declared an escapee early Sunday. Corrections spokesman Jan Lunsford says employers often call the facility to ask that release inmates stay longer. He says somebody called on Vazquez's behalf but it wasn't his work supervisor. KAKE-TV reports that Vazquez was serving a sentence in a Finney County theft case. He had been at the work release facility since early February.

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

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