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Regional Headlines for Monday, October 21, 2013


Forecasts Predict Above-Average Snow This Winter

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Forecasters say this winter could be snowier than normal with occasional bursts of below-normal temperatures. AccuWeather meteorologist Guy Pearson says snowfall should be more spread out than it was last year, when much of the 30 inches that fell in Wichita came in two snowstorms in less than a week. National Weather Service meteorologist Larry Ruthi in Dodge City told The Wichita Eagle ridges in the upper atmosphere are pushing the jet stream south, which could create a conveyer belt for storms to push into Kansas from the desert Southwest. Ruthi expects some colder-than-average surges from late December through February, but there should be some warm spells too. The season's first snowfall came Friday, when as much as 6 inches fell in northwest Kansas.


KS Supreme Court to Hear Hard 50 Appeal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Supreme Court justices are set to hear the first appeal of a Hard 50 prison sentence since lawmakers changed the way the sentence is imposed during a September special session. The case on Tuesday's docket involves Dustin B. Hilt, who was convicted in 2010 on first-degree murder charges for the 2009 death of a Johnson County woman. Hilt was one of three defendants convicted in the killing. He was sentenced to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years, a term that was set by a judge. Legislators changed that process in September during a two-day special session following June U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Virginia case that held that such departures in prison sentences can only be imposed by juries.


Wichita District to Exclude Unvaccinated Children

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Time is running out for Wichita students to get caught up on their immunizations soon. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Wichita district will begin excluding students who aren't up to date beginning November 4. Officials said school nurses have been notifying parents about the requirements. Kansas schools allow an unvaccinated child to attend school under two conditions. One is if the child has an annual written statement from his or her physician saying that the child's life or health would be endangered by undergoing the inoculation. The other is if the parent or guardian has signed a written statement that the child is an adherent of a religious denomination whose teachings are opposed to inoculations. Children claiming an exemption can be excluded from school during suspected disease outbreaks.


Suicides in Kansas Up 30 Percent

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — New state numbers show that suicides reported in Kansas rose to 505 in 2012, a 30 percent increase in the number of suicides in Kansas in 2011. The Wichita Eagle reports the figures from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment also show the most common method of suicide by Kansans is firearms, followed by suffocation and poisoning. In Kansas, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24 and for those between 25 and 44 years old, after unintentional injuries. Johnson County had the most suicides in 2012 with 92. Sedgwick County had the second highest, with 88. Experts caution that a year's increase does not indicate a trend, but also point out that Kansas has recently cut funding for mental health problems.

KS Lawmakers Touring Higher Education Campuses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Coming off a divisive budget debate this spring, Kansas legislators and higher education officials hope fact-finding visits to campuses this month by lawmakers will lessen tensions. But the groups have different goals ahead of the tour. The Republican-controlled Legislature reduced funding for universities, community colleges and technical colleges by 3 percent for the fiscal year that began in July and kept it at about that level for the next fiscal year. Higher education officials said the tour starting Tuesday allows them to educate legislators about campus needs, showcase strong programs and demonstrate efficient operations. The conservative Republicans controlling both legislative chambers are committing the state to cutting personal income taxes, believing it will stimulate economic growth. They are looking for information that helps them rein in spending.

Fort Riley Hosting Fall Jobs Fair

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — More than 50 potential employers are scheduled to participate in a fall jobs fair at Fort Riley, an event aimed at helping veterans and others land employment and network with others. Jeff Reade, program manager for the Employment Readiness Program at Fort Riley, says Tuesday's jobs fair is a chance for job seekers to conduct interviews with employers, see what opportunities exist or establish initial contact with the business community. Some of the companies expected to participate include Great Plains Manufacturing, Century Link, Wildcat Construction Company, Central Power Systems and Services and the Kansas Army National Guard. Reade says job seekers should have their resumes prepared and conduct research about potential employers for potential interviews and networking with hiring managers and human resource departments.

Landon Lecture to Feature 6 Past Secretaries of Agriculture

Kansas State University is hosting another Landon Lecture on campus tonight (MON). Former U.S. secretaries of agriculture Mike Johanns (JOH-hanz), Ann Veneman, Dan Glickman, Mike Espy, John Block and Ed Schafer will take part in the question-and-answer-style presentation. The event gets underway at 7 pm at McCain Auditorium.

KU Students Disagree with SLT/Wetlands Decision

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Student government leaders at the University of Kansas say they should have been more involved in the decision to allow a section of university-owned wetlands to be used for a Lawrence highway project. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university's Student Senate has issued a resolution voicing its disapproval. At issue is the decision to let the state use 8.87 acres in the Baker Wetlands to complete the final stretch of the South Lawrence Trafficway. The completed bypass will carry traffic from the Kansas Turnpike west of Lawrence to Kansas 10 east of the city, allowing through traffic to avoid city streets. A university spokesman said in a written statement that officials have consulted student leaders extensively this year and in past years about the project.


New Prosecutor to Examine MO Teen Sex Assault Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A special prosecutor has been appointed to reinvestigate allegations that a 14-year-old Missouri girl was sexually assaulted by an older classmate who plied her with alcohol. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was appointed Monday. Her recent workload included prosecuting a high-profile case against a Catholic bishop accused of failing to report child abuse. The case attracted national attention when the girl and her mother went public, saying the Nodaway County prosecutor didn't do enough before dropping charges against the boys they said were involved. Local prosecutors maintain that the family stopped cooperating, which the family disputes, but asked for a special prosecutor to take another look at the case. The girl also alleges that a second 17-year-old boy recorded the January 2012 incident in Maryville using a cellphone.

Suspicious Fire Burns 82 Hay Bales in Central KS

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ A fire that destroyed 82 large, round hay bales in central Kansas is being investigated as a case of arson. The Salina Journal reports firefighters were called to the field in rural Saline County around 1:45 am Sunday. Sheriff Glen Kochanowski says the fire was so advanced that it couldn't be extinguished and burned for nearly three hours. The total loss is estimated at more than $16,000. Authorities said the fire appeared to have been set in two places. There were also reports that the headlights of a vehicle had been seen in the area.


Report: KS Winter Wheat 87 Percent Planted

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The first crop condition update released since the partial government shutdown ended shows Kansas farmers well on their way to planting the 2014 winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 87 percent of the wheat crop has been planted. About 61 percent of it has now emerged. The report says that 63 percent of the wheat is in good to excellent condition, with 35 percent rated fair and 2 percent rated poor. Harvest of fall crops has also made significant strides in Kansas since the last official government snapshot. The agency reports that 68 percent of the corn harvest is complete. Sorghum harvest has reached the 36 percent mark, while soybean harvest was at 60 percent. About 34 percent of the sunflowers have also been cut.


Texan Pleads Guilty in KS to Staging Dogfight

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Texas man has pleaded guilty in Kansas to holding a dogfight at his home earlier this year. The U.S. Attorney's office says 47-year-old Vertrick Jordan, of Tyler, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to transport animals across state lines to participate in dogfighting. Jordan admitted conspiring with two Kansas City, Kansas men to hold a dogfight March 23 at his Texas home. Agents who raided the fight detained 30 people and found a dogfighting pit on the property. The Kansas men — Pete Davis Jr. and Melvin Robinson — pleaded guilty in June to transporting dogs to take part in the fight. Davis was sentenced October 10 to 16 months in prison and Robinson to 10 months. Both sides have recommended that Jordan be sentenced to probation.


Forecast: Business Jet Demand Expected to Grow

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas aviation has received some good news in the form of a forecast that says demand for light and medium-sized business jets will rebound over the next decade. The Wichita Eagle reports the forecast comes from Honeywell Aerospace. Honeywell says demand will be spurred by new products and innovations. The company says that is a good sign for manufacturers of those aircraft, a large number of which are in Wichita. Demand for light jets is expected to grow by 9 percent during the next 10 years. Demand for medium-sized jets is forecast to grow 13 percent. Honeywell forecasts plane makers will deliver up to 9,250 new business jets between now through 2022. It expects deliveries to hit a low this year but begin to improve in 2014.


Crews Cleaning Up Wreckage of Derby Area Plane Crash

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — Crews have begun retrieving the wreckage of a small business jet that crashed in a Derby-area field, killing a nationally known pastor and the plane's pilot. The crash Friday killed both pilot, Mitchell Morgan, and Ed Dufresne who led the World Harvest Church in Murrieta, Cailfornia. The Wichita Eagle reports hundreds of pieces of the Cessna Citation were strewn across fields outside Derby. Most of the wreckage is centered in a 15-by-20-foot wide and 6-foot-deep crater, where the plane caught fire. Investigators from National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, Cessna Aircraft Company and the engine manufacturers are mapping and cataloging each fragment found. NTSB Investigator Tom Latson says on-scene retrieval efforts should continue through Monday. The wreckage will be shipped to a Dallas-area facility for further inspection.

Man Injured in Salvage Yard Accident

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 36-year-old man was seriously injured when a grappling hook grabbed the cab of the pickup truck he was in at a Topeka salvage yard. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the accident occurred Saturday at the recycling center, where the victim works. Shawnee County sheriff's Corporal Steve Evans says the injured man was in the cab of a pickup truck when a large piece of heavy machinery reached down, grabbed the cab of the truck and started to grasp it using a grappling hook. The pickup was being lifted off the ground and about to be crushed when other workers realized someone was inside and notified the equipment operator, who immediately let go of the truck. Authorities say the injured man was alert afterward, but his injuries were considered serious.

KS Horse Owners Struggle with Rising Hay Prices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas horse owners are looking for new homes for their animals because they can't pay rising hay prices, while in a few cases the owners have simply stopped feeding them altogether. Careen Cain, founder and president of Wakarusa-based Shooting Star Equine Rescue, told The Topeka Capital-Journal that she hears five to 10 times a month from people who can no longer afford to keep their horses. She says many people don't realize how much hay a horse really needs. Drought conditions over the past three years have cut sharply into the region's hay supply, sending the price for large round bales from $35 or $40 in 2011 to $115 to $120 last year. It's now about $40 to $60 per bale.

Lawrence Hospital Offers Baseline Concussion Testing

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence hospital has started helping younger athletes manage their risk for head injuries. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that on Sunday, Lawrence Memorial Hospital offered baseline concussion testing for a reduced fee to members of Sporting Kaw Valley. The soccer league consists of 10- to 14-year-old athletes. The computerized test takes about 25 minutes, and it asks players to decipher patterns and shapes to measure their reaction time, concentration and memory. If a player suffers a concussion, this test gives physicians an idea of how the brain is doing compared with its baseline. The hospital initially focused on older athletes. It previously has offered the test free of charge to student-athletes at two public and two private Lawrence high schools, along with Eudora High School.

Baker University Moving Closer to Picking a New President

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The pool of applicants vying to be Baker University's newest president has been narrowed from 72 to nine. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the finalists will fly to Kansas City in November for face-to-face interviews with the search committee. Afterward, the committee plans to invite three finalists to campus for two-day interviews and send its recommendation to Baker's Board of Trustees in December. The goal is to name the next president by year's end. The Baldwin City school is looking for a replacement for current President Patricia N. Long. She joined Baker in 2006 and announced in February that she would retire in June 2014. Committee member Hoot Gibson says the university's next leader will need an "entrepreneurial spirit" and a firm grasp on modern models of higher education.


Wichita State to Call New Dormitory 'Shocker Hall'

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University is calling its new residence hall Shocker Hall. The school announced the name in a news release Monday. Construction on the 782-bed building is on schedule, and it's expected to open in time for the next year's fall semester. The release says a new 400-seat dining hall will be attached to the hall. Besides housing most first-year students, some returning students also will live in the hall. The building will feature standard double rooms and several other configurations. Some arrangements will include living room areas. Each floor of the building will have a laundry room, community kitchen and lounge area.


Elk Spotted on Camera in Topeka City Limits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An adult elk has been spotted on a trail within the Topeka city limits. The Capital Journal reports Topeka resident Dan Byl has a trail camera on his property that captured two images this month of the large animal. He says at first he didn't believe it could be an elk because the nearest elk herd is 60 miles away at Fort Riley. So he sent the photos to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, which confirmed he had captured images of a bull elk. Matt Peek, elk program coordinator for KDWPT, says it's rare for elk to be in Topeka, but elk can move a long distance. He says Kansas has about 300 elk, and the last time an elk reached Topeka was in 2001.

Douglas County Gives Deer Road Kill to Residents

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — When cars collide with deer in Douglas County, residents can benefit. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Douglas County Sheriff's Department has a rotating list of county residents who are called and offered the chance to pick up freshly hit deer. Lieutenant Steve Lewis, a Douglas County Sheriff's Department spokesman, says the so-called "deer list" has been in effect for about 25 years. Lecompton resident and deer-list member Timothy Kilburn is on the list, and says one medium-sized deer can "take care of you for a month at least." Douglas County residents can apply to be on the deer list on the sheriff's department's website. Applicants have to be 18 with a valid driver's license or I.D. and have access to a vehicle.


Thieves Increasingly Posing As Truckers in Cargo Thefts

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — To steal huge shipments of valuable cargo, thieves are turning to a deceptively simple tactic: They pose as truckers, load the freight onto their own tractor-trailers and drive away with it. It's an increasingly common form of commercial identity theft that has allowed con men to make off each year with millions of dollars in merchandise, often food and beverages. And experts tell The Associated Press that the practice is growing so rapidly that it will soon become the most common way to steal freight. Experts say online databases allow con men to assume the identities of legitimate freight haulers and to trawl for specific commodities they want to steal. The thefts have consequences for consumers, including raising prices and potentially allowing unsafe food and drugs to reach store shelves.


General Receives KU Alumni Award

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has given its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award to a four-star general who was also a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Charles Boyd received the award Friday at the Dole Institute of Politics. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Boyd spent nearly seven years as a POW in Vietnam, and later attended the University of Kansas to study Spanish. At the presentation for the award, Boyd said his time at KU set him on the path to becoming a four-star general. He received his bachelor's degree and master's degree in Latin American Studies from KU in the 1970s. Boyd retired from the military in 1995 after 35 years of service.


MO Lawmaker Wants Reprieve for KC Schools

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A state senator wants the Missouri Board of Education to give temporary, provisional accreditation to the Kansas City School District. Republican Ryan Silvey, of Kansas City, said Monday the temporary label would give legislators time to consider changing a state law requiring unaccredited districts to pay for students' transfers to other schools. Kansas City schools have been unaccredited since January 2012. The state Board of Education is to consider Tuesday whether to grant the district provisional accreditation. The state education commissioner is recommending against that. On Monday, the board heard a progress report from consultants hired to recommend ways the state could help improve the Kansas City district. A draft report is expected by January.


Consultants for KC Schools Temper Expectations

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The consultants hired to recommend ways to improve Kansas City's public schools are tempering expectations. In a progress report Monday to the State Board of Education, the consultants said there is little precedent of an urban district seeing a dramatic turnaround. But they also said a district of Kansas City's size could see substantial improvement. The state hired The Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust to analyze the Kansas City School District and make recommendations for turning around troubled schools. The organization is working with a North Carolina-based education policy firm called Public Impact. The consultants have begun interviews and focus-group sessions and are to release a draft report by January. A final report is expected in February. Kansas City schools have been unaccredited since January 2012.


Topekan Undertakes 350-Mile Bike Ride for Charity

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 59-year-old Topeka man is undertaking a 350-mile bike ride to help raise money for two children with cancer. Eric Nordgren said he considered not going through with his eighth annual Sunflowers-to-Roses cancer fundraiser, a 350-mile, nonstop bike ride through northeast Kansas. But Nordgren told The Topeka Capital-Journal he changed his mind after he reviewed the stories of the two young cancer patients he's supporting with this year's ride's proceeds: 6-year-old Karis Selk and 3-year-old Londyn Hibbert. Nordgren says the children and their families had endured more than he could even imagine in their ongoing battles against cancer. Nordgren holds the ride each year in honor of his parents and parents-in-law, who all had cancer and two of whom died from cancer. His 2013 ride starts Monday in Topeka.


KC Marathoner Sets Odd World Record

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A University of Central Missouri graphic design professor has knitted his way into the record books while running the Kansas City Marathon. The Kansas City Star reports that David Babcock finished Saturday's marathon in 5 hours, 48 minutes and 27 seconds. Knitting experts measured the scarf he created along the route at just more than 12 feet long. The Guinness scarf-knitting-while-running-a-marathon record was previously held by Susie Hewer, who runs to raise money for Alzheimer's disease research. She knitted a 6 foot, 9 inch scarf at the London Marathon in April. Like Hewer, the 41-year-old Babcock hopes that people will donate to the Alzheimer's Association. Babcock began running and knitting as separate activities about three years ago. He decided to combine them to keep things interesting.


Chiefs Lone Remaining Unbeaten NFL Team After Broncos Loss

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It's hard to find anybody in the Kansas City Chiefs locker room willing to think back to last season. Those memories have been purged for weeks, if not months. Kendrick Lewis remembers, though. The starting free safety recalls what it was like to win just two games and finish with the worst record in franchise history. For many Chiefs players, those statistics make their 7-0 start this season feel that much sweeter. The Chiefs are the lone unbeaten team left in the NFL after the Broncos lost to the Colts on Sunday night. They're also the 32nd team to win their first seven games in the Super Bowl era, and that's a good omen. The previous 31 all made the playoffs.


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