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Regional Headlines for Monday, May 27, 2013



Tornadoes, Hail in Forecast for Kansas and Nebraska

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Forecasters say powerful tornadoes and large hail are possible Monday in parts of northern Kansas and southern Nebraska. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma says the nation's midsection could see thunderstorms, hail and isolated tornadoes on Monday afternoon and evening. Forecasters say "intense supercells" are likely to form, which raises the risk for tornadoes and damaging winds. The Storm Prediction Center says a large section of the central U.S. could see severe weather Monday, including Kansas City; Wichita; Omaha; St. Louis and Indianapolis. Forecasters say the greatest risk for severe weather is in north central Kansas and south central Nebraska.


Analysis: Kansas GOP's Woes on Taxes Have 2012 Roots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislative leaders' difficulties this year in nailing down the details of tax legislation are partly rooted in successes GOP conservatives enjoyed in elections last year. In August 2012, conservatives unseated top Senate Republicans. They shattered a moderate GOP-Democratic coalition that bedeviled Republican Governor Sam Brownback on issues such as taxes and pensions. Conservative legislative leaders agree with Brownback's efforts to follow up on massive individual income tax cuts enacted last year with another round of cuts. They don't seem far apart on adjusting the sales tax to stabilize the budget. Yet their impasse on the sales tax is dragging out the Legislature's session. Shattering the Senate's old governing coalition eliminated a political foil for conservative Republicans in both chambers that had kept them pursuing the same policy goals.

Some Kansas Lawmakers Forfeit OT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas lawmakers have have decided to turn down additional pay as the Legislature heads past its 90-day session limit. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that day 90 was Thursday, which means legislators will go past their limit, as they have in 32 of the past 40 years. Last year's session went 99 days. But each extra day of the session is estimated to cost taxpayers $45,000. A list provided by Legislative Administrative Services shows that five of 40 senators and 17 of 125 House members have declined their legislative salaries after 90 days. Two Republican lawmakers — Senator Vicki Schmidt and Representative Shanti Gandhi, both of Topeka — have also declined their per diem. Representative Brandon Whipple, a Wichita Democrat, tells constituents he'd donate the rest of his salary to charity.

Widow Leads Effort for Topeka Veterans Day Parade

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka military widow was surprised to learn her hometown didn't have a regular Veterans Day Parade, so she's organizing one. Army Sergeant Jamie Jarboe was paralyzed from the chest down after he was hit by a sniper's bullet in April 2011 in Afghanistan. Before his death in March 2012, Melissa Jarboe talked to Jamie about one day being able to participate in a Veterans Day parade. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that after Jamie died, his widow learned that Topeka didn't have a Veterans Day parade. Melissa Jarboe is now organizing a parade scheduled for 11 am on November 11 in downtown Topeka. She hopes area military and veterans' groups will participate and that it becomes an annual event.

Kansas Residents Sue Pipeline over Rupture

ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — Eighteen families in a south-central Kansas neighborhood have filed a lawsuit accusing a pipeline company of contaminating their water, but the company denies the allegations and says it's working with the state to address their concerns. The lawsuit was filed in Sedgwick County District Court on behalf of homeowners in an area northeast of Andover and seeks $2.3 million in damages from San Antonio, Texas-based NuStar Pipeline Operating Partnership L.P. The case is scheduled for trial in 2014. The lawsuit accuses NuStar of refusing to clean up contamination from a 1990 pipeline rupture and claims the contamination has ruined property values. The Wichita Eagle reports that NuStar has owned the pipeline since 2005, and denies the allegations. The company also says residents have failed to show NuStar caused the contamination.

NE Kansas Group Fighting Power Line Developer

MARYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A group of northeast Kansas residents is working to keep a high-voltage power line system away from their farms. The so-called Grain Belt Express developed by Clean Line would transmit about 3,500 megawatts of electricity along 600 kilovolt lines from wind farms in southwest Kansas to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The project still needs state approval. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the group of residents started a petition at arguing Kansas should keep its wind energy in the state and that Clean Line should be required to bury its power lines. Clean Line estimates the project will create about 5,000 construction jobs and 500 long-term operations jobs. The company also says exporting wind energy is similar to exporting cattle or wheat and buried lines are more expensive.


Teens Held in Junction City School Vandalism

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Officials in Junction City are estimating the damage done by vandals at an elementary school at more than $250,000. Police said the damage at Westwood Elementary was discovered after three teens were taken into custody around 8 am Monday on suspicion of shoplifting at a Dollar General store. Officers reported finding items from Westwood Elementary on one or more of the teens. Police then went to the school and found extensive damage throughout the building. Details of the damage weren't immediately released Monday. Two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old were in custody on suspicion of burglary, theft, conspiracy and felony property damage. Police were seeking a fourth person they believe was also involved.


Window Cleaner Injured in Fall at Kansas Hospital

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man cleaning the outside of windows at a northeast Kansas hospital became a patient there are falling three to four stories. Geary County Sheriff Tony Wolf says the accident happened Monday morning at Geary Community Hospital in Junction City. The window cleaner suffered what Wolf called very serious injuries. The sheriff says the man was wearing a rope harness at the time, and it wasn't immediately clear how or why he fell.


Empty Mill, Railcars Burn in SW Kansas

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — Investigators are seeking the cause of a fire that destroyed a vacant flour mill and several rail cars in southwestern Kansas. KSNW-TV reports that 75 firefighters and 15 trucks responded after the fire broke out in Liberal around 7:30 pm Sunday. Some crews were still at the scene Monday putting out hot spots. The fire began in an old flour mill next to the Equity Grain Elevator. The elevator was spared, but the flames spread to a fertilizer warehouse. No injuries were reported.


SE Kansas School District Ready for All-Digital Conversion

HUMBOLDT, Kan. (AP) — A small school district in southeast Kansas is shelving traditional textbooks and paper tests as it goes all-digital beginning this fall. The Iola Register reports that the USD 258 district in Humboldt will issue laptop computers, available for after-school take-home, to students in grades four through 12. In kindergarten through third-grade classrooms, pupils will be given iPads to use each day. K.B. Criss is the superintendent of the district, which has about 550 students. Criss told the newspaper he became convinced of what he calls the "phenomenal advantages of digital education" after visiting a classroom in Illinois earlier this year. For example, Criss said a teacher noticed that students taking a test on their laptops had problems with a question. He says the teacher was able to immediately reteach the information.

Hays Bans Sale, Use of Fireworks for 2013

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — The city of Hays and Ellis County are at odds over the sale and use of fireworks this summer in the midst of persistent drought. Hays city commissioners voted Thursday to prohibit the sale and use of fireworks in the city for 2013. The Hays Daily News reports that Ellis County commissioners, however, passed an ordinance earlier in the week that allows the sale of fireworks in the county. County commissioners left the decision of whether to allow fireworks to be discharged in rural areas in Ellis County up to Rural Fire Chief Dick Klaus. City Manager Toby Dougherty says persistent drought conditions led city staff to recommend banning fireworks. The city lags a couple of inches below its average precipitation level for the year.


Delta Flight from Kansas City Makes Emergency Landing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Delta airlines flight headed from Kansas City, Missouri to Atlanta made an emergency landing in Nashville, Tennessee after reports of engine trouble. WSMV-TV reported that more than 100 people were on Flight 973. Nashville International Airport Authority spokeswoman Shannon Summerall told the station there were reports of trouble with the jet's left engine, and the plane landed safely around 11:45 am. A message left for Delta was not immediately returned Monday afternoon.

Restored World War II Bomber to Fly Wichita Skies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A restored World War II bomber will offer flights over Wichita next month to give passengers a sense of what veterans saw in combat more than 60 years ago. Public flights and tours are June 1-2, but the B-17 Flying Fortress was expected to draw attention with a scheduled flight over Wichita on Monday. The bomber is named for the famed Memphis Belle. It was never used in combat but is painted in that plane's colors and was used in the 1990 feature film "Memphis Belle." The plane is owned by the nonprofit Liberty Foundation, which says the aircraft is one of 13 B-17's still flying. Public flights cost $450. The foundation says it spends more than $1.5 million annually to keep the plane airworthy and on tour.


Tiny Kansas Town Has Close Call with Monster Tornado

ROZEL, Kan. (AP) — Residents of a small western Kansas town are shaking their heads at the twist of fate that spared them from a massive tornado. The EF4 tornado developed out of a thunderstorm near Dodge City on the evening of May 18 and roared northeastward across seven miles of rural Pawnee County. About a half-dozen farmhouses had minor to major damage as the spun toward Rozel — only to turn sharply to the north just before hitting the community of about 150 people. The Wichita Eagle reports that Aaron Johnson, of the National Weather Service in Dodge City, says a direct hit would have destroyed the town. Rozel did sustain massive damage from a tornado in 1949, but several others since then have skipped over or around it.


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