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Regional Headlines for Monday, November 11, 2013


KS Units Assist with Veterans Day Events

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Members of the Kansas National Guard are fanning out across the state to provide support to numerous observances to Veterans Day. Activities began Saturday and continue Monday, including parades in Emporia, Eskridge, Leavenworth, Manhattan and Topeka. Army National Guard soldiers and Air National Guard airmen were going to local nursing homes and assisted living centers to hand out certificates of appreciation to veterans for their service. A ceremony was held at the Pittsburg State University Veterans Memorial Amphitheater to honor military service, including a special recognition for Father Emil Kapaun, a native of Kansas who was recently awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during the Korean War.


Analysis: KS Gov, Dems Waiting for Data on Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters aren't likely to have much definitive data ahead of next year's elections on how well massive income tax cuts championed by Governor Sam Brownback are stimulating the state's economy. Instead, they'll be forced to sort through competing claims from the Republican governor's administration and its Democratic critics. Those claims will be gleaned from fiscal forecasts and monthly employment reports. The picture of Brownback's signature policy probably will remain fragmented. Democrats contend a new fiscal forecast released last week shows that the tax cuts will starve schools and government programs. Supporters argue that the cuts already are fostering business investment. But they also acknowledge that it will take well past November 2014 for the results to be obvious.


Fort Riley Hosting Army Education Fair

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Representatives from various colleges and universities are converging on Fort Riley to host an Army education fair for current and prospective students. The event Thursday will allow soldiers and their families to meet with admissions counselors to learn more about programs at schools in Kansas and across the country. Fort Riley counselors also will be participating to discuss degree selection, financial aid and options within the Army education system. Participants are encouraged to bring academic records, discharge papers, proof of military training and any other certification soldiers and veterans may have received. Schools expected to participate include Kansas State University, Fort Hays State University, Baker University, North Central Kansas Technical College and Grantham University. Fort Riley is home of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, located about 60 miles from Topeka.


Veterans Memorial Idea Revived in South Hutchinson

SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A stalled effort to build a veterans memorial in South Hutchinson is getting another look. South Hutchinson City Administrator Matt Stiles and others are trying to revive a project to raise $200,000 for the memorial. The plan announced in August 2012 generated only about $5,000. The Hutchinson News reports the city of South Hutchinson will to donate the land for the memorial and Hutchinson architect Vance Voth donated his services to design it. Stiles says the effort slowed down partly because of turnover in leadership at veterans' organizations. He says a new fundraising committee will meet in November to discuss reviving the effort. Stiles also has explored funding from grants and Veterans Affairs but noted it's not a good time to seek funding from the federal government.


Hearing Set for McConnell Base, Refueling Tankers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Air Force is holding a hearing in Wichita to gauge public support for McConnell Air Force Base as it considers sites for a new fleet of refueling tankers. The Wichita Eagle reports the Air Force in May named McConnell as the preferred site for 36 KC-46A tankers to be sited beginning in 2016. McConnell is already the world's largest tanker base with 62 KC-135s. The hearing is Tuesday evening at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex on the Wichita State University campus. More than 300 people showed up at a similar public hearing in April. The siting process also requires an environmental impact study to make sure the base can accommodate the new aircraft. The results of the hearing will be included in the final 500-page draft impact study.


KS, MO Groups Prep for Aid to Philippines After Typhoon

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe-based relief group is preparing to send relief supplies to the Philippines in the wake of a deadly typhoon. Typhoon Haiyan swept across the Philippines on Friday, killing thousands of people. The massive storm also wiped out homes, schools and airport buildings. Heart to Heart International spokesman Dan Weinbaum says the agency's current efforts are a continuation of its year-round relief work in the Philippines. The organization will ship relief supplies and materials, including care kits, hygiene kits and relief boxes with pharmaceutical supplies which can serve up to 500 people. The Kansas City Star reports that Heart to Heart International is working with partner organizations in the Philippines, including Springfield-based Convoy of Hope and Hope Worldwide.


KS Statehouse Renovation Nears Completion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A giant construction crane towering beside the Kansas Statehouse is coming down next month as a massive renovation of the building nears its end. And Statehouse Architect Barry Greis said Monday the cost of the 13-year project will fall a little short of the $332 million projected by state officials last year. The big crane has been used for work on the Statehouse dome, where scaffolding has been removed. Greis said that beams that supported the scaffolding will start coming down this week. Meanwhile, work continues on a large visitors' center in the basement. The floor will contain a map of Kansas set in stone, which each of the 105 counties identified. Greis said some landscaping will wait until early spring because of the weather.


KS Food Bank Predicts New Assistance Record

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Food Bank officials are expecting a record this year for the number of weekend backpacks the agency sends home to hungry schoolchildren as it continues to extend its reach beyond Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports the Food Bank says it's now giving backpacks to more than 6,300 schoolchildren every week in Wichita and the counties it serves in Kansas. By the end of the school year it expects to be giving out food to 7,500 to 8,000 schoolchildren. That would surpass the record set last year of more than 7,100. The Food Bank and other charities say they have seen a steady increase in poverty and hunger in recent years as parts of the state economy continue to suffer from the recession.


KS Board of Ed to Consider New Standardized Tests

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Board of Education is expected to be asked next week to switch to standardized math and English tests called Smarter Balanced, which would end a 30-year reliance on the University of Kansas to create annual state exams. The director of the university's testing research center told the Topeka Capital-Journal the change probably wouldn't mean any job losses at KU because the school would retain its contract with the state for other services. Director Neal Kingston says sticking with his center would give the state more control over the testing program, while going with Smarter Balanced provides comparability across states and gives Kansas access to more shared resources. The education board likely will reach a decision next month.


Inmate Dies in Sedgwick County Jail

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 44-year-old inmate has died of apparent natural causes at the Sedgwick County Jail in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that the man was pronounced dead shortly before 1 pm Monday. The inmate's name and other details about him were not immediately released. Sheriff's Lieutenant David Mattingly says officials believe the death was related to a medical issue. Three other inmates have died at the jail this year from natural causes. Last Thursday, 59-year-old John Daniel Price died while awaiting trial on felony charges. Price had been receiving treatment for various medical conditions while he was in custody.


Woman Stabbed Outside Salina Hotel

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old woman is recovering in a Salina hospital after being stabbed outside a hotel during the weekend. The Salina Journal reports that the stabbing occurred around 2:30 am Saturday during an altercation in the parking lot of the Ramada Conference Center. Salina police Lieutenant Scott Siemsen said Monday officers are looking for a known female suspect. The victim was stabbed in the hip, back and side of the neck. She has been identified only as a resident of Rose Hill, located about 90 miles away in Butler County. Police say neither woman had been staying at the hotel.


Lawrence Couple's Health, Living Problems Detailed

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Neighbors of a Lawrence man accused of shooting his wife to death say the couple was facing deteriorating health and living conditions. Larry Hopkins is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of his wife, 61-year-old Margaret Hopkins. He is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Douglas County District Court. The Lawrence Journal-World reports neighbors recalled the couple as quiet but friendly. They said Margaret Hopkins suffered from arthritis, diabetes and nerve damage, among other things. Larry Hopkins was hospitalized about a year ago for a stroke and suffered heart problems. The couple's health problems made it difficult to keep up their home in northeast Lawrence. In 2009, after years of complaints, the city's code enforcement manager said their house would need to be condemned.

Tribes in KS Oppose Move by Delaware

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The leader of the Oklahoma-based Delaware Tribe says the tribe could pursue a casino in Kansas, but the tribe also has a broader vision of providing services to Native Americans. In an "open letter to the people of Kansas," Chief Paula Pechonick said Saturday she wanted to address speculation about the tribe's plans since it bought 90 acres in North Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Delaware's efforts in Kansas have drawn opposition from the federally recognized tribes of Kansas, which all have casinos. The Kansas tribes says if the Delaware open a casino it will cause them economic hardship. Pechonick says a casino may be a possibility, but the Delaware also want a future in Kansas and an area where it could deliver federal services to Native Americans.


Rep. Yoder, Wife Welcome Baby Girl

MERRIAM, Kan. (AP) — Congressman Kevin Yoder is a new father. The northeast Kansas representative announced on his website that his wife, Brooke, delivered the child Thursday at Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Merriam. The girl, named Caroline Lucille Yoder, measured 20 inches and weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce. Yoder says mother and baby are healthy and resting at home. He described the baby as a "true blessing" and said he and his wife "couldn't be happier" to add Caroline to their family.


Garden City Expects $300K in Sewer Claims

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Garden City officials are expecting to see more than $300,000 in claims filed by residents affected by a recent sewage pump malfunction at the city's wastewater treatment plant. The malfunction on October 20 caused sewage to flood into basements of nearly 30 homes in the city's Wilson Addition. The Garden City Telegram reports that the city expects claims to be filed with the city's insurance carrier to top $300,000. Mike Muirhead, public utilities director, also says the city's insurance company hopes to have everything finalized in the next couple of weeks. Muirhead says the problem at the wastewater treatment plant has been repaired, and additional steps are being considered to prevent a recurrence or provide an earlier warning.

Kansas Gets $394K for Renewable Energy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing incentives for rural Kansas to improve energy efficiency. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program is providing about $394,000 in grants for 38 renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in Kansas. Projects in 21 other states also received funds. Of the 38 Kansas projects, eight were for businesses, with the remainder going to agricultural operations. Most involved replacing equipment or systems deemed to be inefficient, including switching from diesel to electricity or natural gas or replacing doors, windows and heating systems. The largest grant in Kansas, for $33,000, went to Historic Breckenridge Hotel in Emporia. The grant will pay to replace some of the windows in a century-old high school that's being converted into a hotel and convention center.


Expert: Tobacco Use by Mentally Ill Too High

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health advocates are seeking to reduce smoking rates among the mentally ill. The Kansas Health Foundation's vice president for programs, Jeff Willett, says Kansans with mental illness are twice as likely to smoke as the general population. The Lawrence Journal-World  reports that Willett co-wrote a recent paper on the topic in the Journal of American Medical Association Psychiatry. Willet says the paper is a "call to action" for the mental health and public health communities to address the issue of tobacco use among people with serious mental illness. The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors has found that people with serious mental illnesses die an average of 25 years earlier than everyone else, largely from treatable conditions such as nicotine addiction and obesity.


Westar Works with Topeka School District on Science Park

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Westar Energy is working with the Topeka Unified School District to create a science park for students. Westar has been a partner for USD 501 in its endeavor to develop the Kanza Education and Science Park, which Westar and the school district hope will become a destination for science classes around Kansas. Facilities at the park include Education Station, which is an electrical substation designed to give visitors a look at the workings of electricity. Substations convert high-voltage power to low-voltage power and route it to customers. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the substation is surrounded by fencing that allows students to see in and is painted in bright colors to make it easier to distinguish the various parts.

MGP Ingredients Feud Appears to Be Winding Down

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — A feud between board members of MGP Ingredients in Atchison might be over, after the company's board said it decided to continue with the current business strategy. Members of the company's founders had been fighting others on MGP's board of directors since May, when the board announced it was reviewing strategic options. The Kansas City Star reports that announcement prompted concerns among Atchison residents because reviewing strategic options often leads to a merger or sale of the company. Board chairman John Speirs announced Friday that the board decided the best way to create value for shareholders was to continue with current strategy. Karen Seaberg, granddaughter of the company's founders, says that announcement settled the main point of the current proxy battle.

Realtor Helps Catch Drug Thief During Open House

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An alert Wichita real estate agent helped police arrest a man who allegedly stole prescription drugs during an open house. Police say the man arrested Sunday is suspected of at least two similar thefts in recent months. Realtor Lorie Touchatt told KAKE-TV that the Wichita Area Association of Realtors recently issued a warning about the man, and a co-worker had a run-in with him last week. Touchatt sent a text to her husband and the homeowner, asking them to call 911. While was talking to the 911 operator, Touchatt says she pretended she was talking to a potential home buyer. Police arrested the suspect a block from the house. They say he had a bottle of prescription narcotics on him that were taken from the home Touchatt was showing.

Plane Crashes in Oklahoma, Killing at Least 1

OWASSO, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a small plane crashed near Owasso, Oklahoma killing at least one person. The Federal Aviation Administration says the multi-engine plane crashed shortly before 4 pm Sunday about five miles north of Tulsa International Airport, where it was headed. The plane took off from Salina, Kansas. Highway Patrol Captain George Brown says the National Transportation Safety Board will take over the investigation. Airport spokeswoman Alexis Higgins says the pilot reported engine problems. Brown says troopers found the aircraft in a wooded area and will remain on the scene until federal investigators arrive on Monday.

Pheasant Season Start Disappointing for KS Hunters

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Hunters were mostly disappointed with opening day of the season for upland game birds in central Kansas. The Salina Journal reports farmers, landowners and experts with the state Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism were all predicting a bleak opener Saturday largely because of drought. Greg Salisbury, a game warden from Bennington, also says what few birds are out there have a lot of cover thanks to the late summer rains. While the predictions largely were accurate, there were a few lucky hunters. Professional hunting guide Jim Gourley said there were nine rooster pheasants bagged by a group of seven hunters. He says that wasn't great, but it was better than reports suggested.

Federal Reserve Commissions Artwork from KU Students

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Students at the University of Kansas are creating a commissioned artwork for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Matthew Burke, a KU associate professor of sculpture, is leading a class called, "Special Topics in Art: The Federal Reserve Commission," which will be offered each semester through fall 2014. Five students are enrolled this semester. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the students' mission is to design and execute a work of art to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the bank, established in 1914. The students will present their proposals to the bank in December. The bank also has other original artworks from regional artists. But Kevin Wright, the bank's project coordinator for the commissioned KU artwork, says it's the first time the bank has tried this type of collaboration.


Missouri Minimum Wage Set to Rise to $7.50/Hour

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's minimum wage will rise by 15 cents an hour in January. The Missouri labor department has set next year's minimum wage at $7.50 an hour. That's a cost-of-living increase over the current $7.35 an hour. A 2006 ballot measure approved by Missouri voters required the state's minimum wage to be adjusted annually based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. The group Missouri Jobs with Justice, which supported the ballot initiative, says the latest increase is good for the economy but still not enough for some families. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the wage increase could make it harder for some business to employ people. The increase will make Missouri's minimum wage 25 cents higher than the federal minimum wage.


Champions Classic to Feature 4 of Top 5 Men's College Hoops Teams

CHICAGO (AP) — Only a few days into the college basketball season, the Champions Classic might just be a sneak preview of the Final Four. Top-ranked Kentucky vs. No. 2 Michigan State is the marquee matchup in the tournament Tuesday night at the United Center in Chicago. It's the earliest in the season the top two teams have faced each other, and the first game between numbers 1 and 2 since 2008. Duke and the University of Kansas play in the nightcap, giving the tournament four of the top five teams in the country. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says he hasn't been this excited about a game in "a long, long time." It's a great showcase for college basketball, and Izzo says there's no downside, win or lose.


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