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Regional Headlines for Monday, September 24, 2012



Kansas Governor Leads Fundraiser for GOP Candidates 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is helping raise money for 14 Republican candidates for the Kansas Senate by playing host for a large fundraiser. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Monday evening's event at a downtown Topeka law firm also is being sponsored by influential lobbyists and lobbying firms. The list of sponsors also includes a political action committee with ties to Brownback. The invitation asked those attending to contribute either $500 or $1,000 to each of the 14 Senate candidates. Most of the candidates are either conservative Republicans running for open seats or the winners of GOP primaries against moderate incumbents. Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag called the fundraiser an opportunity to bring Republicans together.


Analysis: KS Governor Fashioning New Budget Narrative

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's administration already has developed talking points to deflect anticipated criticism of the newly enacted massive income tax cuts should Kansas face significant budget problems next year. Critics said their fears about the aggressiveness of the cuts were confirmed by the conservative Republican governor's budget director in July, when he told state agencies to draft proposals for slicing up to 10 percent of their spending. Brownback and his allies argue that the tax cuts will stimulate economic activity, generating new tax revenues to more than offset the money the state is giving up. The administration is fashioning a narrative that suggests budget cuts may be necessary because the nation's economy may remain stagnant. Europe's financial crisis also looms as a potential threat.


Homicide Victim Found at Topeka Cemetery

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A gunshot victim has been found dead at the Topeka Cemetery. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that the man's body was found around 8:20 am Monday. Spokeswoman Kristen Veverka says police are investigating the case as a homicide. Police have closed or blocked all entrances to the cemetery as they investigate. Detectives also are canvassing the area to see if anyone had seen or heard anything. Topeka Cemetery Superintendent Lowell Manis says the investigation isn't expected to delay any scheduled funeral services.


UPDATE: College Student Charged in Man's Death

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old McPherson College student is charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the beating death of a Tabor College football player. Alton Franklin of Dallas, Texas made his first appearance Monday in McPherson County District Court in the death of 26-year-old Brandon Brown of Sacramento, California. He is being held on $500,000 bond and will have a preliminary hearing October 3. Franklin was on the 2011 McPherson College football team roster, but is not listed on the 2012 team roster. The Salina Journal reports Brown was found lying near a street in McPherson just after 4 am on September 16 and died Saturday without regaining consciousness. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 am Tuesday at the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church. Franklin was suspended from McPherson College after his arrest Saturday, hours before Brown died. A message left with Franklin's attorney was not immediately returned.


Kansas Jails Struggle to Meet Needs of Mentally Ill

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Scarce mental health resources across Kansas are swelling the ranks of local jails with inmates who might be better served in psychiatric institutions. Jails in Johnson and Shawnee counties have special pods for prisoners with mental illnesses, but no such facilities exist in Sedgwick county, the which is the state's second most-populous. The Wichita Eagle reports Sedgwick County Sheriff Robert Hinshaw, who lost his re-election bid in August, has been pushing for years to build a dedicated pod for inmates with mental illnesses. But with expected first-year operating costs pegged at $750,000 in 2009, no funding has been provided for such a pod. Hinshaw says the average length of stay in Sedgwick County's jail is 28 days, but for the 49 inmates he would house in a special pod, the average is 165 days.


Authorities Seek Help to Curb Prescription Abuse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The top federal prosecutor in Kansas is urging residents to join the fight against prescription drug abuse. At a news conference Monday, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom asked Kansans to participate in the National Drug Take Back Day. Law enforcement agencies nationwide will be accepting unused prescription drugs on Saturday for safe disposal. Nearly 8,800 pounds of drugs were collected in Kansas during a Drug Take Back Day earlier this year. Grissom says more people die from drug overdoses each year than are killed in auto accidents. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office operates the drop-off sites in the Wichita area. Officials say unused prescription medicines can be delivered Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Oaklawn Activity Center and the county's hazardous collection site.

Judge Weighs Long Sentence in Kansas Firearms Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man snared in a federal firearms sting operation could be going to prison for several decades. Chico Davis pleaded guilty in June to 10 counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and selling drugs. He was scheduled for sentencing Monday in U.S. District Court in Wichita. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot said in a letter to the parties that he was considering imposing the maximum statutory sentence of 40 years. But the judge also said he might make the total term even longer, by making the sentences on some counts consecutive. Belot said Davis, now in his 30s, has a criminal record that began when he was 15 and continued uninterrupted except for when he was behind bars.


UPDATE: Colombian President Santos Visits KU 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The president of the Republic of Colombia says he is hopeful that negotiations with rebel factions will result in peace for his nation. Juan Manuel Santos told the media on Monday at the University of Kansas that peace with the rebels would be welcome news for his country and the entire region. He is a KU graduate, and the university will be honoring him for his public service. Santos earned degrees in economics and business in 1973. Santos is scheduled to meet with students. He'll also take part in a public event at the Dole Institute, where he will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award. That's the highest honor given by the College of Liberal Arts and Science.


Ex-Convict Charged in Death of AT&T Technician

GLADSTONE, Mo. (AP) — Clay County authorities have charged a Kansas City ex-convict in the beating death of an AT&T technician. The Kansas City Star reported that Clay County authorities charged 35-year-old Bryan J. Middlemas with first-degree murder, attempted robbery and armed criminal action. Forty-one-year-old Kevin M. Mashburn died early Wednesday after he was clubbed in the head with a crowbar during an overnight shift in the Kansas City suburb of Gladstone. Mashburn managed to pull himself into his service truck and radio for help after he was struck. Authorities found him unconscious in his truck, and he died at a hospital. Court documents say a former cellmate told police Middlemas talked about attacking Mashburn. Middlemas is being held on $1 million bond. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.

Fire Damages Overland Park Auto Dealership

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A fire caused at a suburban Kansas City auto dealership caused about $400,000 in damages. The Kansas City Star reports that the fire at the Overland Park Mazda dealership was reported early Sunday. When firefighters arrived the garage behind the dealership was in flames. The fire took about a half-hour to extinguish. The cause of the fire is under investigation. No injuries were reported.


Gunfight Leaves 1 Dead in KCK

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas are investigating a fatal shootout between people in two motor vehicles. Residents called police around 11 am Monday to report people shooting at each other from the two vehicles. Police say a passenger in one of the vehicles was hit during the rolling gun battle and died at a hospital. No arrests were immediately reported. The victim's name was being withheld while he was positively identified and family members were notified.

Cities Stunned by Kansas Main Street Program Shutdown

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The abrupt demise of a popular state program that helped Kansas communities revitalize their downtowns has left officials in many cities disappointed and perplexed. State Commerce Secretary Pat George announced the immediate shutdown of the 27-year-old Kansas Main Street program in an email Thursday to directors of the 25 local Main Street programs around the state. George said the move was part of a department restructuring. Kansas Main Street offered training sessions, technical guidance and zero-interest matching loans for small-business development. In northeastern Kansas, Holton Main Street executive director Bob Carlson said the loans kept some small towns from drying up commercially. Carlson says most of the local programs will continue to exist, but the training and guidance from the state program will be missed.


2 Elderly Kansas Residents Killed in 2-Car Collision

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — An elderly Kansas couple is dead after their car ran a stop sign and collided with another car in rural Leavenworth County. The Kansas City Star reports 84-year-old Bernard Payeur and 77-year-old Joanne Payeur died in the crash around 7:15 pm Saturday west of Leavenworth. The Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office says the Denison residents were westbound when they ran a stop sign and struck a vehicle driven by 39-year-old Rebecca Gildner of Easton. The Sheriff's Office says the Payeurs didn't appear to be wearing seatbelts. Bernard Payeur was found dead at the scene, and his wife died shortly after rescuers arrived. Gildner and two passengers were taken to an area hospital for treatment of their injuries.


Kansas Students' SAT Exam Scores Better Than U.S. Average  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas students are outpacing the national average on the SAT college-entrance exam. The state's Department of Education said Monday that scores increased in all content areas in 2012. The biggest increase was in reading, where students scored 595 out of 800, up five points from 2011. About 5 percent of the state's graduates took the exam — a low number that contributes to the higher-than-average scores Kansas test-takers achieve. The reason few Kansas students take the test is because the ACT historically is more popular in the central states, with the SAT more popular on the East and West coasts. The Kansas students taking the SAT tend to be more prepared, with many of them considering admission to out-of-state schools.


Kansas National Guard to Get New Training Center

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Officials attended an official groundbreaking this weekend for a new training center for the Kansas National Guard. The Salina Journal reports that Brigadier General Eric Peck cut the ribbon at the Saturday groundbreaking for the new outdoor facility that will be built at the Kansas Regional Training Institute in Salina. Major Dan Matthews says Salina was chosen by the national guard because a lot of training already takes place there. Colonel Bob Windham, company commander of the 235th Regiment, says the facility will serve Air and Army national guard units from around Kansas.


Lecompton Jail Being Moved 1 Brick at a Time

LECOMPTON, Kan. (AP) — The 150-year-old Lecompton jail is being moved one stone at a time so it can be closer to the Constitution Hall Historic Site downtown. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a local building company began disassembling the jail September 10 in preparation for its move down the hill from its current site to property purchased by the Lecompton Historical Society. Society president Paul Bahnmaier says the move will make the jail more accessible to the public. A spokesman for the company moving the jail says the restored facility will last several hundred years. A Heritage Conservation Council grant is paying $55,000 of the $69,000 cost to move the building. A memorial fund is providing $8,000 and the rest is being covered by members of the historical society.

Rollover Crash in SW Kansas Kills 1, Injures 5

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Dodge City girl has died and five other people were injured in a rollover accident in southwest Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports that the child, Esella Vasquez, died after the vehicle she was in swerved into oncoming traffic, rolled and landed in a ditch. The accident occurred Saturday afternoon on U.S. 50 about 14 miles west of Cimarron. The highway patrol says the injured were taken to hospitals in the area and in Wichita. The patrol says the child killed in the accident was not wearing a seatbelt.

2 Nebraskans Killed in Car-Train Collision in Kansas

WEBBER, Kan. (AP) — Two Nebraska residents were killed when the vehicle they were in collided with a freight train in north-central Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol says that 43-year-old Tracy Core of Lincoln, Nebraska and 22-year-old Bradley Cusatis of Beatrice, Nebraska were killed when the car they were in was struck by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train at a crossing. The collision occurred Saturday morning north of Webber in Jewell County.

K-State Shakes Up Big 12, Jumps to Number 7 in National Rankings

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — With just two conference games in the books, the pecking order in the Big 12 has been shaken up. Kansas State's 24-19 upset of preseason Big 12 favorite Oklahoma on Saturday night vaulted the Wildcats (4-0, 1-0) ahead as one of the league's new front-runners for the championship. It has the Sooners (2-1, 0-1) in the rare position of playing from behind, after losing their Big 12 home opener for the first time under coach Bob Stoops. K-State jumped up to Number 7 in The Associated Press rankings on Sunday for its highest position since 2003. Oklahoma tumbled 10 spots to Number 16. Both teams will take this week off while the six teams yet to play their Big 12 openers will get in on the action.

Royals to Help with Homebuilding in Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Members of the Kansas City Royals are scheduled to be in Joplin to work with Habitat for Humanity building homes for victims of last year's devastating tornado. The team says among the Royals in Joplin on Monday are pitcher Danny Duffy, former first baseman Willie Aikens, former outfielder Brian McRae and more than 30 front offices associates. The work is part of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's Joplin Challenge as the community continues to recover from the May 22, 2011, tornado that killed 161 people and damaged a large section of the southwest Missouri town. The Royals will work with staff from Habitat for Humanity on five homes in the "Royals neighborhood." They'll also be meeting with Joplin residents, including the families who will be moving into the neighborhood.


Chiefs Revitalized After OT Victory

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs were trailing New Orleans 24-6, well on their way to a third straight humiliating defeat. Then the defense stiffened, Jamaal Charles started to gouge the Saints for big yards and Kansas City has new life after an overtime victory. The Chiefs (1-2) will try to build on their 27-24 overtime victory next Sunday when they face the San Diego Chargers in an AFC West tussle. If they can make it two straight wins, Kansas City would move into an improbable tie atop the division. Oakland and Denver are also 1-2 through their first three games.

Colombian President Santos Visiting Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The president of the Republic of Colombia is returning to his collegiate alma mater, where he will be honored for his public service. Juan Manuel Santos is scheduled to speak Monday at the University of Kansas where he earned degrees in economics and business in 1973. Santos is scheduled to meet with students. He'll also take part in a public event at the Dole Institute, where he will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award. That's the highest honor given by the College of Liberal Arts and Science. Earlier this month, Santos announced the signing of a preliminary agreement with Colombia's main leftist rebel group to launch peace talks.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 


Tabor College Player Dies Week after Being Beaten

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Tabor College football player has died about a week after he was found badly beaten in McPherson. Tabor College says on its website that Brandon Brown, a 26-year-old defensive lineman from Sacramento, California died late Saturday at a Wichita hospital. Brown was hospitalized after he was found lying unconscious on a McPherson street early last Sunday. McPherson police chief Robert McClarty said Saturday before Brown died that a 19-year-old Texas man was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery in connection with the beating and is being held on $100,000 bond. McClarty says additional charges are likely because of Brown's death. Tabor says counseling services have been set up for students at Tabor, which is in Hillsboro, about 25 miles east of McPherson and affiliated with the Mennonite faith.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 

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