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Regional Headlines for Monday October 22, 2012



Kansas Repealer Office Sets Up Online Tip Site

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Office of the Repealer has joined a school efficiency task force in setting up a website to gather tips and suggestions from the public. Secretary of Administration Dennis Taylor announced the repealer's new site only days after the school efficiency set up its site to take anonymous tips. But the repealer's site gives people the choice of remaining anonymous or leaving contact information. Taylor says the goal is to gather reports of potential waste, fraud and abuse within state government. Governor Sam Brownback set up the office within the Department of Administration to identify laws and regulations that are burdensome or outdated. Thirty-seven have been repealed. Brownback created the schools task force last month.


Democrats Create Own Kansas School Online Site

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislative Democrats have created their own online survey to counter a new website created by Governor Sam Brownback's administration. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley and House Minority Leader Paul Davis said Monday their site will gather suggestions for finding school spending efficiencies — like the governor's — but it will also collect success stories of how schools are operating. A task force appointed by Brownback is studying ways to promote efficient use of state funding by schools. The task force has a website that accepts anonymous tips and comments from the public about school spending. Secretary of Administration Dennis Taylor announced last week that the Office of the Repealer will accept anonymous reports of potential waste, fraud and abuse throughout state government on a separate website.


State Officials Marking Kansas Food Day

EUDORA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Food Day takes place this week, and state Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman will spend part of it touring the garden, orchard and culinary arts facility at a high school. The state Agriculture Department is partnering with the Eudora School District for the celebration Wednesday at Eudora High School. Officials from Douglas County and the state Department of Education will also take part. Students in Eudora's agricultural education program will lead the tours. October is also National Farm To School Month, and the visiting officials will join Eudora students for a lunch made partly from local food products. Eudora is located just south of Lawrence in Douglas County.


Topeka City Council to Decide Future of Elephant Program at Zoo

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka's city council is considering the fate of two aging elephants at the local zoo after animal rights activists urged officials to transfer the animals to a sanctuary in Tennessee. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports council members plan to take up the issue at a meeting Tuesday. Staff at the Topeka Zoo has recommended keeping the elephant program. The zoo's elephants are 52-year-old Sunda and 42-year-old Tembo. Support at a hearing conducted by the zoo this month was nearly 2-to-1 in favor of keeping the elephants in Topeka. Zoo director Brendan Wiley says it would cost $60,000 to enhance the zoo's elephant program, while it would take about $450,000 to transfer the elephants and turn their space into a new exhibit.


TransCanada Restarts Keystone Pipeline

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — TransCanada has restarted the Keystone oil pipeline that carries about 590,000 barrels of crude oil each day from Canada to facilities in the Midwest. Oil began flowing again Monday afternoon. Company spokesman Shawn Howard says the system will be operated at a slightly reduced pressure for about 24 hours. Contractual delivery levels will resume in November. TransCanada had shut down the pipeline Wednesday after tests showed possible safety issues. The company had planned to restart the pipeline Saturday. Howard blamed logistical issues for the delay, saying bad weather complicated efforts to move equipment on site and made inspections take longer. The potential problems were detected in a section of the line between Missouri and Illinois. Howard says there were no leaks and the pipeline system's integrity is sound.


Kansas Winter Wheat Planting Nears Completion 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers have reached the 91 percent mark in planting the 2013 winter wheat crop. In its weekly crop report Monday, Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service also said about 62 percent of the wheat has emerged. The agency says 2 percent of the young wheat is rated in excellent condition, with 38 percent rated good, 49 percent fair and 11 percent rated poor to very poor. Meanwhile, the fall harvest of other Kansas crops is moving ahead amid mostly dry, warm conditions around the state. The corn harvest was 94 percent complete by Sunday, more than three weeks earlier than average. Soybean harvest reached 59 percent complete, while the sorghum harvest was 37 percent finished. Range and pasture conditions are rated as 80 percent poor to very poor.


Dole Recalls McGovern as Humble, Compassionate

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Former U.S. senator and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole says millions of children are able to eat thanks to the work of former U.S. Senator George McGovern. The Republican from Kansas released a statement about McGovern following the former senator's death in Sioux Falls early Sunday morning. Dole and McGovern joined together to create an international food for education and child nutrition program, for which they shared the 2008 World Food Prize. In his statement, Dole says 31 million children participate in the school lunch program. He called McGovern a "humble, compassionate and caring man" who looked out for the people who needed a helping hand. Dole says McGovern's efforts at fighting hunger extended far and wide, and the world "is a better place because of his generous spirit."


Former Navy Lawyer Appeals to Kansas Supreme Court

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Navy lawyer who was convicted during a court martial in 2007 for mailing secret information about Guantanamo Bay detainees is seeking to get his law license reinstated in Kansas. Attorneys for Matthew Diaz will argue on Thursday before the Kansas Supreme Court to accept a recommendation from the Office of Judicial Administration to suspend his law license for three years effective 2008. Because of the timeline, Diaz would be reinstated with the Kansas bar. The disciplinary hearing panel said Diaz warranted "significant discipline" for his actions, which included the act of printing and sending classified information and sending it to an unauthorized person. Wichita attorney Jack Focht argues that Diaz by virtue of his court martial, discharge from the Navy and prison term had been punished enough.


Patrol: Multi-Vehicle Crash Caused by Road Rage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Investigators say a multi-vehicle crash that forced an area high school football game to be delayed appears to have started because of road rage. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened around 4:30 pm Friday on U.S. 24 in Topeka in a construction zone and involved at least six vehicles. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a maroon passenger car cut off a Ford Taurus in the merge lane, then slammed on its brakes after the Taurus driver honked the car's horn. The maroon car reversed and struck the Taurus, which was struck from behind and a chain reaction ensued. Troopers say the maroon car left the scene. A high school football team's bus was struck in the resulting traffic jam, causing the start of its game to be delayed.


Kansas State Powers Up New Smart Grid Laboratory

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University is powering up a new smart grid laboratory, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for the new facility in Rathbone Hall. A smart grid seeks to match electric power supply with consumer demand. The lab will be used for research and to train and recruit students. Kansas State's project received funding from the Kansas City engineering firm of Burns & McDonnell. The company's vice president, Randy Pope, is a Kansas State engineering graduate and will be on hand for Tuesday's event. Several other companies are donating equipment and furnishings to the lab.


Police: KC Warehouse Owner Shoots Burglars

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — For the second time in a month, a Kansas City business owner has shot and wounded people breaking into a warehouse he owns. The Kansas City Star reports that the latest incident occurred Sunday morning when the 74-year-old man responded to an alarm at the vacant warehouse. Police say the owner opened fire on two men who were inside, stealing copper. One suspect was shot in the shoulder and arm, the other in the back. They're described as an uncle and nephew from Kansas. Police say the warehouse owner also confronted two burglars on the morning of September 25. He shot one suspect in the leg and a second suspect in the abdomen. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutors were sorting out possible charges Monday against the suspects in the latest case.


Hutchinson Voters Invited to Tour Kansas Salt Museum

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Registered voters in Hutchinson are invited to come on down — 650 feet down — for free tours of the Kansas Underground Salt Museum on Tuesday evening. The Hutchinson News reports that museum officials are offering the tours ahead of next month's vote on extending a city sales tax that benefits the attraction. Revenue from the tax also goes for sidewalk and street improvements, property tax reduction and another of Hutchinson's big attractions, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Museum. Officials say the Underground Salt Museum gets about $100,000 a year — roughly 10 percent of its budget — from the sales tax. Tuesday evening's tours are intended to give registered voters who live in Hutchinson a chance to see the museum and hear how the tax revenue has been spent.


Topeka Man Charged in Wife's Shooting Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man charged in his wife's death will remain in jail on $1 million bond. A Shawnee County District Court judge on Monday declined to lower bond for 32-year-old Manuel Campos Alcala. He's charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death last week of Ashley M. Alcala. She died after being found severely injured in her home. Police have not said how she was killed. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports police say two other men are being detained in El Paso, Texas, for questioning in the slaying. The judge appointed a public defender for Alcala, who said he had no assets.


Officer Who Lost Sight in 1 Eye Recuperating

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina police officer who lost sight in one eye after being shot says the support of the fellow officers and the Salina community has helped him recover. Officer Chuck Huen was shot in late September when he and four other officers entered a home to investigate a possible stolen car and/or domestic incident. The man inside the house later killed himself in the basement. Huen was hit in the right eye. He plans to get a prosthetic eye in early December. During a charity flag football game Sunday in Salina between law enforcement officers and firefighters, Huen said he is progressing well. The Salina Journal reports that Huen is not sure what his future holds, but he's not worried because of support he's received during his rehabilitation.


Detective Works for Healing After Fatal Accident

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Douglas County sheriff's detective is working to bring some good from an accident that killed a Nebraska man in November 2010. Twenty-three-year-old Zachary Harrison, formerly of Hutchinson, is serving nearly seven years in prison for stealing a truck on the University of Kansas campus and later rear-ending a car 21-year-old Cameron Freeman was riding in. Freeman died in the crash on U.S. 59. In response, Freeman's parents started the Cameron Effect, a Web-based effort that asks people to commit seven acts of kindness. Detective Jay Armbrister responded to the Freemans' efforts by giving presentations about the accident to try and prevent similar tragedies. The Lawrence Journal-World reports he's also befriended Harrison, who will join in the speeches when he's released from prison.


Kansas Candidate Wants to Ease Path into Classroom

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A candidate for a Kansas State Board of Education seat wants to make it easier for professionals outside the public school system to become teachers. Overland Park Republican Steve Roberts argues that state policies place too much emphasis on ensuring that aspiring second-career teachers go back to college over quickly tapping their knowledge of subjects such as math and science. Roberts is running for the open state board seat for the 2nd District, covering northern and eastern Johnson County. His opponent is Cindy Neighbor, a Shawnee Democrat and former Kansas House member who's served 16 years on the Shawnee Mission school board. Neighbor contends that Roberts underestimates the need for teachers to understand different teaching methods, classroom management, child development and basic child psychology.


Kansas Man Pleads Guilty to Helping Brother Rob Bank

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has pleaded guilty helping his brother rob a bank in March of this year. The U.S. attorney's office said Monday that 24-year-old Justin Cooper of Wichita admitted driving his brother Lessie Cooper to a Commerce Bank branch, where the brother pointed a 9 mm rifle at tellers. But as Lessie Cooper was getting into the getaway car with the stolen money, exploding dye packs surrounded him with a red mist. A nearby Wichita police officer who saw the packs explode chased the car. Justin Cooper surrendered after the car was stopped, but his brother ran and was found hiding under a bed in the neighborhood. Lessie Cooper was sentenced earlier to more than 13 years in federal prison. Justin Cooper will be sentenced January 7.


Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Leaving Baby in Alley

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas woman is free on bond after a not guilty plea was entered on her behalf for allegedly leaving her 2-month-old son in an alley. District Judge Gunnar Sundby entered the plea Friday for 28-year-old Elizabeth A. Michaud of Leavenworth. Michaud's attorney said her client needs treatment and wasn't able to help with her defense. The Leavenworth Times reports a pretrial conference is scheduled for November 30. Michaud is charged with aggravated endangering a child after she allegedly left her son alone May 3 in a Leavenworth alley near her home. Prosecutors believe she was using drugs or alcohol at the time. Leavenworth police chief Pat Kitchens estimated the baby was in the alley for at least three hours before he was found by a neighbor.


Children's Mercy Opens Independence Facility

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Children's Mercy Hospital is expanding again in the Kansas City area. Called Children's Mercy East, the Independence branch was opening to patients Monday. It houses a range of specialty clinics and an urgent care center that will be open daily from noon to 10 pm. The three-story, 55,000-square-foot facility is designed to serve eastern Jackson County. Children's Mercy has been serving a growing number of children from that area — nearly 23,000 of them last year alone. Children's Mercy's main hospital is located in downtown Kansas City. It also has clinics and care centers in northern Kansas City and across the state line in Overland Park and Kansas City, Kansas.



Lawrence Teachers Trained on New Academic Standards

The bar has been raised for students in Kansas. Teachers in the Lawrence School District are preparing for significant changes in reading and math curriculums. As part of a national initiative called the Common Core Standards, teachers in Lawrence, the state, and the country are being trained in the new methods. At a recent seminar at Langston Hughes Elementary School in Lawrence instructors brushed up on the changes. They were told to incorporate more relatable, real-world examples when teaching. As the Lawrence Journal-World reports, the Kansas State Board of Education approved the new standards in October 2010 but they will not be implemented until 2014. The standards are intended to be more rigorous than years previous. The initiative hopes to improve student performance and test scores. 

(source: KPR/Lawrence Journal-World)



Iola's New Dog Park to Feature Special Attraction

IOLA, Kan. (AP) — The people who designed the new dog park in a southeastern Kansas community didn't forget the special needs of little dogs. The Iola Register reports the city expects to open the dog park within the next few weeks. The site measures 130 feet by 180 feet, with a special 90-by-40-foot pen reserved for canines weighing 30 pounds or less. And right in the middle of that pen is a feature sure to give the little ones something to yap about — a tall, healthy pecan tree that's been full of squirrels. While small dogs romp, run and go nuts in their pen, the main part of the park has a structure designed to entertain larger breeds: a mound and tunnel, good for chasing and hiding.


City, Fire Officials Say Sky Lanterns Are Dangerous

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Those glowing sky lanterns look beautiful as they drift across the night sky, but some Missouri and Kansas officials want them permanently grounded. The lanterns are made of thin paper with a candle or other heat source inside. They generally stay airborne for about a half-hour until the heat source cools. Independence (Missouri) Fire Chief Sandy Schiess calls them dangerous balls of flame that can't be controlled. The Independence Fire Department wants to prohibit sky lanterns while pushing for a statewide ban through the Missouri fire marshal's office. In Kansas, Johnson County fire officials are educating citizens until they can update their fire codes. The Kansas City Star reports advocates say the lanterns are safe because they stay aloft until the flame burns out and the hot air has escaped.


Suicidal Man Holds KC Police at Bay for 3 Hours

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A standoff with a suicidal man who reportedly had been drinking bleach ended peacefully three hours after Kansas City police initially responded to a disturbance. The Kansas City Star reports police were called to a home around 9:30 am Sunday where a woman said her boyfriend was inside the home threatening to harm himself. She said she thought he had been drinking bleach and might be armed with a gun. After trying to contact the suspect for hours, officers went into the home and found around 12:20 pm and found the man in an upstairs bedroom. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.


Eudora Woman Has Century of Memories on Birthday

EUDORA, Kan. (AP) — Whenever Henrietta Olson talks, people carefully listen to her quiet and oftentimes pointed responses. The witty Eudora resident mainly tells staff and residents at Medicalodges located at 1415 Maple Street about her life and her family. "I tell them (the staff) to keep them quiet," she said with a smile. "And some people like to hear these stories." Olson's memories span more than a century and date back to times of horse-drawn wagons, mud roads and "dreams of the West"  that very few can relate to but often retell for her. After all, the petite woman with pale blue eyes turns 108 on Monday. Family, friends and staff at Medicalodges were celebrating Olson's longevity on Sunday with punch and a cake decorated with horses. All six generations of the family hoped to attend the event.


Wichita Woman Finds Naked Stranger in Bedroom

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman got an unwelcome surprise when she walked into her home to find a naked stranger waiting in her bedroom. The Wichita Eagle reports the woman tried to get away after she encountered him at 5:45 pm Saturday, but the 29-year-old man tackled her. The man is accused of sexually assaulting the woman before she managed to escape and call 911. Police say they found the man still naked inside the home when they took him into custody. He was arrested on charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery.


Kansas Man Gets Life Sentence for Sex Act on Baby

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 25-year-old Kansas man who reported himself to police for performing a sex act on a baby has been sentenced to life in prison. The Hutchinson News reports that Michael Sherman — who had no prior criminal record — won't be eligible for parole for 25 years under the Kansas statute known as Jessica's Law. That law mandates life sentences for certain sex crimes against children younger than 14. Reno County Senior District Judge William Lyle said at Friday's sentencing he would probably be overturned on appeal if he failed to apply the law in Sherman's case. Sherman went to his pastor and police after performing oral sodomy on the 4-month-old girl in December 2011. He had been watching pornography at his Hutchinson home when the crime occurred.


Kansas City Diocese Settles 2 Civil Lawsuits

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has settled two civil lawsuits. The Kansas City Star reported Monday that attorneys for the diocese and plaintiffs would not discuss the content of the settlements. In one lawsuit, Margaret Mata, a former independent contractor, alleged the diocese and Bishop Robert Finn retaliated against her for advocating on behalf of victims of a priest facing child pornography. She said she also pushed the diocese to change its policies to prevent further child sexual abuse. The second lawsuit was filed by Larry Probst, a former worker at the diocesan archives. He alleged he was dismissed after complaining about sexually offensive language, sexual advances and pornography on the computers at work. The diocese had denied the allegations in both lawsuits.


Matt Kenseth Wins KS Speedway Sprint Cup Race

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Matt Kenseth won for the second time in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in a caution-marred race at the repaved Kansas Speedway. The fast new surface and a hard tire contributed to Sunday's race-record 14 cautions, a season high for the Sprint Cup Series. Nobody was immune from the problems, either, as at least five title contenders had issues. Jimmie Johnson led 44 laps early, but crashed hard after spinning by himself. He had to stop at least a half-dozen times on pit road for repairs over two caution periods to salvage a ninth-place finish. It was enough to keep the margin unchanged with Chase leader Brad Keselowski, who finished one spot ahead in eighth and maintained his seven-point lead in the standings with four races remaining.


No. 4 K-State on a Roll Entering 2-Game Home Stand

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A battle for Big 12 supremacy left Kansas State and West Virginia heading in opposite directions. Number 4-ranked Kansas State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) continues to roll through a tough conference schedule and turn away challenges to its solo grip on first place. The latest victim: the Mountaineers. Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein says he's proud of how his team has been able to hang together, and now they just have to keep moving forward. That means returning home for tests against number 15-ranked Texas Tech on Saturday and Oklahoma State on November 3. West Virginia (5-2, 2-2) plummeted to 25th in this week's Associated Press poll. The Mountaineers are broken down on offense and their defense is nonexistent. They've been outscored 104-28 in their last two games and now get a bye week to think things over.


Chiefs to Start Quinn over Cassel at Quarterback 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Brady Quinn will take over as the Kansas City Chiefs' starting quarterback and Matt Cassel will serve as the backup beginning with Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders. Quinn started in the Chiefs' loss at Tampa Bay two weeks ago because Cassel was still feeling the effects of a concussion sustained the previous week against Baltimore. The Chiefs were off last week and that gave coach Romeo Crennel an opportunity to evaluate both of them along with the team's miserable 1-5 start. Crennel said Monday that he hopes changing the quarterback "will get everybody's attention and hopefully that impacts the team." Cassel had committed 14 turnovers in the first five games of the season. He was completing just 58.5 percent of his passes for 230 yards per game.



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