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Regional Headlines for Monday, November 25, 2013


KS Legislators Hear Health Care Update

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas insurance department official says the agency is working with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas to provide guidance for continuing coverage for some 10,000 policies that previously were canceled under the federal health care law. Linda Shepherd told a legislative oversight committee Monday that Blue Cross would renew the policies for one year and is working to get them reviewed and in place. The company's decision to restore the canceled policies came after President Barack Obama announced that insurers would be allowed to keep offering existing plans for at least another year, even if those plans don't comply with federal coverage mandates. At least 4 million Americans received cancellation notices because their plans didn't meet the requirements of the 2010 health care law championed by the president.


KBI Report: State Domestic Violence Reports Up

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A report from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation shows that the number of domestic violence incidents in Kansas is at its highest since 1992. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the KBI's new Domestic Violence, Stalking and Rape in Kansas report is based on 2012 statistical data submitted to the agency by Kansas law enforcement agencies. The report shows that between 1992 and 2012, the highest number of domestic violence incidents occurred last year, when there more than 24,000 incidents reported. There were also fewer arrests made in those cases in 2012 than 2011. In 2011, there were about 13,500 arrests. Last year, there were about 13,200. The report also shows that the number of rapes reported decreased 3.3 percent in 2012 from the number reported in 2011.


KS Governor Pleased with Initial Schools Meeting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says a meeting with legislators and a small group of Kansas school superintendents has laid the foundation for future dialogue on public education. Brownback met for more than an hour in his office Monday with House and Senate Republican leaders, superintendents and the president of the Kansas Association of School Boards. The governor convened the gathering to start what he hopes is a conversation about academic performance and avoiding future lawsuits over state funding for schools. He says more meetings are expected. Superintendents said they found Monday's meeting productive and that all parties shared the goal of doing what's best for the state's 450,000 public school students.


Education Board Veteran to Challenge KS GOP Lawmaker in Primary

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — The GOP chairman of the House Appropriations Committee will face his first primary challenge next year. The Hutchinson News reports that Barbara Bunting became an official candidate last week in the 72nd House Republican primary. She will face 52-year-old Marc Rhoades of Newton who has handily defeated Democratic opponents ever since he first won the seat in 2006. Bunting, also of Newton, is a longtime school board member and past president of the Kansas Association of School Boards. Rhoades says Bunting is supported by Democrats and "those who have an affinity for big government." The 59-year-old Bunting considers herself "more moderate" than Rhoades. She says Republicans are her primary supporters, but she adds that Democrats and unaffiliated voters also are backing her. No Democrats have entered the race yet.

KS Groups Seek Repeal of Mortgage Fee

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Realtors and bankers in Kansas want to do away with county fees to register property bought on a mortgage. The groups say the mortgage registration fee discriminates against people who borrow money to buy homes or business property. The Wichita Eagle reports that county officials want to keep the fee. They say without the fee it's estimated that counties across the state will lose about $47 million a year in revenue. The Kansas Bankers Association also says the registration fee is actually a tax because nearly all the amount charged goes to the county's general fund and doesn't reflect the cost of recording the document. Counties say increased property taxes to make up for lost revenue would be a bigger burden on homeowners and businesses than the fee.

Analysis: Citizenship Law at Root of Kansas Lawsuits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his critics are tangled in two lawsuits over whether Kansas will create a dual voter registration system. But the disputes are proxies for ongoing battles over the state's proof-of-citizenship law. The lawsuits in state and federal court deal with how Kansas treats voters who use the federal government's national registration form. Under a dual registration system, people who use state forms and comply with the proof-of-citizenship rule could vote in any race. People using the federal form don't have to submit citizenship papers but could vote only in federal races. Kobach is trying to prevent his critics from using the national registration form to undermine the law's enforcement. His opponents want to prevent him from blocking a less restrictive path to voter registration.


Spike in Pertussis Reported in Sedgwick County

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Health officials in Sedgwick County are reporting an unusually high number of cases of whooping cough. The county health department said Monday it has received 27 reported cases of the illness so far this month. That's more than in any month in the past five years. Whooping cough - also known as pertussis - is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It's highly contagious and causes violent, rapid coughing. Health officials say babies are especially at risk because they're too young to be vaccinated. The department is urging families to be careful about passing babies around during holiday gatherings. Officials say good hand-washing habits can reduce the chances of transmitting whooping cough.


Study: US Spewing 50% More Methane Than EPA Says

A new study says the United States is spewing 50 percent more methane than the federal government estimates. Much of it is coming from just three states: Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Scientists say that means methane may be a bigger global warming issue than they thought. Methane is 21 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, the most abundant global warming gas, although it doesn't stay in the air as long. Much of that extra methane seems to be coming from the belches, flatulence and manure of livestock, and leaks from refining and drilling for oil and gas. The study is published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.


Grant Helps NW KS Residents Get Running Water


HAYS, Kan. (AP) _ A $300,000 state grant is helping several northwest Kansas residents get drinking water to their rural homes for the first time in generations. The Hays Daily News reports that 42 volunteers helped finish a 12-mile pipeline to southern Ellis County in three months as part of a project bringing water from Trego County. The new pipeline will allow Ernie Leiker and his wife to move back out to their farm, which they left decades ago because it didn't have running water. It's also helping others who had either low water pressure or none at all before the line went in. The grant paid for engineering, materials, grant administration and help from the Kansas Rural Water Association, but most of the work was done by people who provided help for free.


KS House Speaker: No State Govt Help Renaming Wichita Airport

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick says Wichita will have to bear the cost if it decides to rename Mid-Continent Airport for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Wichita Eagle reports that estimates of the cost of the name change have ranged from less than $175,000 to as much as $700,000. Speaking Friday during a luncheon at the Republican Wichita Pachyderm Club, Merrick said the state doesn't have that kind of money lying around. Wichita Airport Director Victor White says the Kansas Department of Transportation already has made it clear that it would have to be reimbursed for changing state highway signs. Federal rules don't allow use of airport funds to pay for off-site signage. But White says the money could come from city coffers or private donations.

NTSB Investigates Mistaken Airport Landing for Jumbo Jet

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating why a pilot mistakenly landed a cargo-hauling jumbo jet at a small Kansas airport instead of the Air Force base a few miles away. The Wichita Eagle reports that the agency opened the investigation Friday. NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said in an email that the investigation would take about six to 12 months to complete. The Boeing 747 was supposed to touch down Wednesday night at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita. Instead, it landed at the smaller Colonel James Jabara Airport. Boeing owns the plane, but it's operated by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings. Atlas spokeswoman Bonnie Rodney said in an e-mail that the company is providing its full assistance to regulatory authorities. The Federal Aviation Administration also is investigating the landing.

Board Revokes KS VA Hospital Doctor's License

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A medical board has revoked the license of a doctor at an already short-staffed Topeka veteran's hospital. The Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision cited incompetence in pulling the plug on Kelly Humpherys's license on November 7th. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Humpherys had been licensed and practiced medicine in Oklahoma before starting work in March at the Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center. VA Eastern Kansas Medical system spokesman Jim Gleisberg said in an email that Humpherys was no longer working at the Topeka facility. Humpherys doesn't have a listed number in Topeka, and Gleisberg said he thought she had left Kansas. While working at Jane Phillips Medical Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Humpherys's obstetrics privileges were suspended. Administrators deemed her "an immediate threat to health and safety."

KTA Identifies Pedestrian Killed on Highway

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Turnpike Authority has identified the pedestrian who was killed when he was struck by a tractor-trailer along the highway. The KTA says 21-year-old Adrian Trotter was struck by the semi along Interstate-335 outside Topeka on Friday night. The KTA says the vehicle Trotter had been driving had earlier hit the median wall about 10 miles south of the South Topeka toll plaza. Trotter and his passenger got out of the vehicle and ran. WIBW reports that multiple vehicles struck Trotter's unoccupied car, and Trotter stepped out into northbound traffic where he was struck and killed by the semi.

KS County Provides EMS for Wind Farm Project

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Providing standby emergency medical services while a wind farm is under construction is turning into a money maker for a western Kansas county. The Garden City Telegram reports that Finney County has received about $245,180 since signing a contract in March with Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. It's the general contractor for the Buffalo Dunes wind farm. County administrator Randy Partington says revenues are at least meeting and possibly exceeding estimates. Initial estimates indicate the county could see up to $175,000 in profit by the end of the contract, depending on how many hours EMS was on the site. Partington says he hopes to use some of the money to pay for a string of ambulance repairs and possibly a new ambulance.

Lawrence Considers Wetlands-Replacement Project

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Replacing wetlands is part of a construction project that will link Interstate 70 north of Lawrence with Kansas 10 east of the city. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that city commissioners are scheduled Tuesday to finalize a deal to expand the natural areas near the Wakarusa River that are under the control of Baker University. City staff recommends the purchase of 11 acres for the project. The city is on the hook for the project because it will build a street that will disturb about five acres of wetland and stream riparian areas. The Kansas Department of Transportation is responsible for building about 300 acres of wetlands. They'll replace the approximately 55 acres of existing wetlands that will be disturbed by the South Lawrence Trafficway project.

KU Seeking Proposals for New Retirement Community

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Leaders at the University of Kansas are considering taking part in the development of a new type of retirement community that would include several generations and university research space. University officials are expected to seek proposals from development firms interested in the project, which could include placing university research space next to a neighborhood of retirees and young families. KU's New Cities Initiative director Dennis Domer told The Lawrence Journal-World a request for proposals could be ready for development firms to review by mid-March. Community leaders have sought the university's involvement in the project because they think it will be good for the city's efforts to become more of a destination for retirees.

Topeka Zoo to Transfer Female Hippopotamus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka Zoo is sending away its fertile hippopotamus because it doesn't have room for more babies. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 10-year-old Mara is tentatively scheduled to depart in early December. Zoo officials aren't saying where her new home will be because they don't want to ruin the announcement for the recipient zoo. Mara lives at the Topeka Zoo with her son, Vision. He was born in August 2010, even though Mara had been fed an industry-standard contraceptive. Vision's father, Tucker, had to be shipped off because the zoo's hippo enclosure is built for two animals. Now, staff is noticing changes in Vision's behavior. Zoo director Brendan Wiley said officials determined it might be best to keep just one of the two animals in the same enclosure.

Teens Compete in KC for a Spot on 'Jeopardy'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The search for contestants for a "Jeopardy" teenage tournament has made a stop in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports that around two dozen teens showed up Saturday at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. They're among 300 youths the TV quiz show is auditioning to find 15 who will make the tournament. Just to reach an audition meant scoring well on an online quiz. After getting their pictures snapped, the teens had less than seven minutes to finish a 50-question "Jeopardy''-style written quiz. That was followed by brief buzzer-beating competitions among three teens at a time, just like on television. The teens came from Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. Some already knew how they'd spend the $75,000 tournament prize.

Actress Kirstie Alley Highlights KC Chamber Dinner

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Actress Kirstie Alley is performing Tuesday at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce dinner. The KC Chamber's Annual Dinner will honor outgoing Chamber Chairman Russ Welsh and incoming Chairwoman Roshann Parris. The chamber also will announce the Kansas Citian of the Year. The event will be held at the Kansas City Convention Center's Grand Ballroom. Alley has Kansas roots. The "Cheers" star and "Dancing With the Stars" contestant is a Wichita native who attended Kansas State University.

2 Sentenced in KC-Area Drug Conspiracy

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Two more defendants are going to prison for what federal prosecutors say was a $28 million drug trafficking conspiracy in the Kansas City area. The U.S. Attorney's office said 60-year-old Victor Hernandez-Delgado, of Kansas City, Missouri was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison. Forty-one-year-old Jorge Cisneros-Saucedo, of Kansas City, Kansas received a 10-year sentence. The two were among 45 people charged with taking part in a drug trafficking organization targeted by federal investigators in October 2010. Cisneros-Saucedo and Hernandez-Delgado both pleaded guilty conspiring to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. Five other defendants are awaiting trial. The rest are awaiting sentencing or have already been sentenced. Authorities say the investigation resulted in the seizures of more than $2 million in cash, nearly 200 firearms and 29 vehicles.

Lenexa Officer Runs 52 Marathons for Charity

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — A 44-year-old Lenexa police officer has been running a marathon each weekend for nearly a year to raise money for two charities. Bob Schluben finished his 52nd marathon in 47 weeks on Sunday when he completed the Gobbler Grind marathon in Overland Park . He's raised almost $30,000 for the Sunflower House in Shawnee and the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund, also known as SAFE. Sunflower House is a child abuse prevention center, and SAFE raises money to support families of police officers, firefighters and paramedics who die on duty. The Kansas City Star reports that Schluben initially promised to run a marathon each weekend, but he did more than one a few weekends, so even though he has done 52, he plans to do five more this year.

KC Area to Get $1M in Home Repair Grants

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver says low-income families in the Kansas City area are expected to benefit from $1.1 million in new grants for home repairs. Cleaver announced the grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines Strong Communities Fund on Friday. The Kansas City Star reports that Central Bank of Kansas City and Kansas City's Neighborhood and Housing Services Department received two grants totaling $1 million to help about 150 low-income families in seven neighborhoods. The money will go toward home repairs, including roof replacements and electrical upgrades. Another $100,000 will go to Commerce Bank and Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity for roof replacements in the Mount Washington neighborhood in Independence and neighborhoods in Buckner and Grain Valley. The money becomes available in January.


Self: Stop Singing 'Home of Chiefs' During Anthem

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas coach Bill Self wants fans to quit yelling "Chiefs'' at the end of the national anthem before games that the Jayhawks play at historic Allen Fieldhouse. Fans of the nearby NFL franchise traditionally bellow "Chiefs" rather than "brave," the final word in the national anthem, before games played at Arrowhead Stadium. But for some reason, many do the same thing before games played in other area venues. Among them are Allen Fieldhouse and Kauffman Stadium, the home of the Royals. Self said Monday that "out of respect for what it really stands for and the men and women that have sacrificed so much, I think that we should stay true to what it is.'' Other local coaches have made similar pleas over the years.


Banged-up Chiefs Turning Attention to Preparations for Sunday Matchup with Broncos

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali had an MRI exam on his sprained left ankle that came back better than expected Monday, while fellow linebacker Justin Houston had an MRI exam on his left elbow postponed because of swelling. Coach Andy Reid wouldn't say whether his top two pass rushers, both of them Pro Bowl picks a year ago, would be available for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos. Hali rolled over his ankle in the first half of Sunday's 41-38 loss to the San Diego Chargers. He was walking on crutches in the locker room after the game, but Reid said that he was feeling better on Monday. It's possible he could play against Denver. Houston appears to be more doubtful after a subluxation of his elbow.



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