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Regional Headlines for Monday, September 3, 2012



State Senator Jean Schodorf Says She'll Leave GOP

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — State Senator Jean Schodorf has announced she is leaving the Republican Party after she was unseated by a conservative Wichita City Council member in the primary. The Wichita Eagle reports that Schodorf said Saturday that there's no room in the party for "people who actually think in moderation." Michael O'Donnell defeated Schodorf, a veteran moderate Republican and the Kansas Senate Education Committee's chairwoman. Schodorf has held the seat since 2001 and served 12 years on the Wichita school board. But O'Donnell had the backing of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. He also benefited from independent advertising by the anti-tax, small-government group Americans for Prosperity. Schodorf says she plans to change her voter registration in the near future. She plans to become a Democrat or an independent. 


City of Topeka Silent on Results of Zoo Inspection

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — City leaders are saying little about the results of the latest inspection of the Topeka Zoo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture amid ongoing concern for animal welfare. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that city officials are reviewing the inspection report before issuing a public comment about the findings. City spokesman David Bevens says the administration is taking a different approach to the USDA reports, breaking from previous practice of issuing statements. The zoo has been struggling to repair its public image since the USDA filed a complaint against the zoo on December 12th after issuing 51 citations for violating regulations during 11 inspections from April 2007 through June 2011. The USDA is responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act and licensing animal exhibitors.

Analysis: Abortion Foes Question Dropped Charges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Abortion opponents are turning on a Kansas prosecutor who abandoned a high-profile criminal case against a Planned Parenthood clinic. Some publicly question explanations Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe has given for dropping the most serious charges. Anti-abortion activists had seen Howe as sympathetic and well-intentioned. But the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue has called for Howe to resign in the days since the last charges were dismissed against the clinic in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park. The clinic once faced 107 charges, including 23 felonies, accusing it of falsifying documents and performing illegal late-term abortions, allegations it strongly disputed. Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate believed it was the first criminal prosecution of a Planned Parenthood clinic. Howe said he's not surprised by the criticism.

DA: Mission Officials Violated Open Meetings Law

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas City suburb of Mission is accused of violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said Friday that Mayor Laura McConwell signed documents to purchase a building without the City Council's binding approval. The Kansas City Star reports that the Mission City Council talked about buying the building in a closed meeting, but failed to authorize the purchase. The city paid $280,000 for the building. Howe says he won't charge any of the council members or mayor with violating the law at this time. But he requested that the mayor and City Council attend training on the open meetings law within the next six months. Howe says the purchase of the building won't be voided.

10 People Injured in KC-Area Wrong-Way Collision

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ten people were sent to the hospital with minor injuries after a head-on collision in which one of the drivers was headed in the wrong direction. KCTV reports a family was on its way to Georgia when its van was T-boned at an intersection on the city's east side just after 12 am Monday. Police say the car was traveling south in the northbound lanes when it struck the van. Seven people in the van and three people inside the car were taken to the hospital, while the car's driver ran away from the scene. Police were still looking for the driver Monday morning.


2nd Man Charged in Porn Ring; Other Victims Sought

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Federal investigators believe there could be more victims of child molestation in the Kansas City area after a second man was charged as part of an international child pornography ring.
Homeland Security Investigations special agent Gary Hartwig says the arrest of 38-year-old Michael Arnett in May prompted others to come forward and accuse 38-year-old Robert Poe III of molesting them.  Poe was arrested August 10 in Laredo, Texas, on three counts of traveling to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. Prosecutors say Poe was a close friend of Arnett, who is facing federal charges of making, possessing and distributing child pornography. A phone message left for Poe's attorney over the Labor Day weekend wasn't immediately returned.

1 Man Dead, 1 Hurt after Kansas Rollover Accident

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A 49-year-old southern Kansas man is dead after a Jeep rolled over in a grassy field and ejected him.  The Wichita Eagle reports Bret Clark of Arkansas City died in the crash just after midnight Sunday morning. A 38-year-old Arkansas City man who was riding in the jeep suffered moderate injuries.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says Clark was driving in the field on private property in the southeastern part of the city when he lost control of the vehicle. Arkansas City police say Clark received immediate medical attention but died at South Central Kansas Medical Center. The Highway Patrol and Arkansas City police continue investigating the accident.

Wichita Scrambling to Recruit High-Demand Teachers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The Wichita school district has hired a recruiter to scour job fairs and college campuses to find teachers for hard-to-fill vacancies.  It also has launched a Facebook page, and officials are visiting local high schools and community colleges to encourage youngsters to consider teaching careers.  Their recruiting efforts are targeting special-education teachers. But other high-demand teaching areas include math, science, English as a second language and consumer sciences. The Wichita Eagle reported that the board this week approved up to $50,000 to hire retired administrator Don Dome as its district recruiter to find special education teachers. The districted started this school year with 25 special-education vacancies. Recruitment director Shelly Martin says there is a huge shortage of special education teachers and the district has difficulties getting qualified candidates.

KU Chancellor Getting Part-Time Driver

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas has hired a part-time driver for Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to help her use her time on the road for work.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports the driver will work as needed to take Gray-Little to and from out-of-town appointments. Those would mainly include trips to KU Medical Center, located about 40 miles from Lawrence in Kansas City, Kansas, and the Edwards Campus in Overland Park. The idea came from the Kansas Board of Regents, which has been studying ways to help the heads of the state's public universities use their time more productively.  Gray-Little's driver will be Robin Moore, a retired Douglas County sheriff's deputy. He'll be paid $20 per hour. The chancellor will still drive herself around Lawrence and on some out-of-town trips.

Kansas Man Sentenced for Repeatedly Eluding Police

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Leavenworth man involved in seven separate police chases has been sentenced to four years in prison. The Kansas City Star reports that 29-year-old Franklin Dougherty was sentenced on Friday. Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said the chases spanned from December 2011 to March of this year. During one of them, Dougherty drove 100 miles per hour through a 30 miles per hour school zone in front of Leavenworth High School. The last chase was on March 14th. That's when Leavenworth police chased Dougherty nearly to the Wyandotte County line. Kansas City, Kansas police picked up the pursuit, which continued into Overland Park. Spike strips laid on the road shredded Dougherty's tires, but he continued driving until he lost control and crashed. Dougherty still faces charges in Johnson County.

Lesser Prairie Chicken's Protection Status to Be Settled

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Experts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are considering whether the lesser prairie chicken needs federal protection. The Kansas State Research and Extension service says the agency has until September 30th to decide whether to propose listing the bird as a threatened or endangered species. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the bird's range and numbers have been declining for years — everywhere except Kansas. The western part of the state is now home to at least half of the world's lesser prairie chicken population. The other birds live in nearby areas of Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. The area where the birds can currently be found is less than 8 percent of their historic range. More than 90 percent of that current habitat is private property.

Kansas WWII Veteran Set to Break Honor Flight Age Record

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 101-year-old man is expected to become the oldest to fly out of Kansas through a program that sends World War Two veterans to see the war's memorial in Washington. The Wichita Eagle reports that Sam Maier says his bags are already packed for his Honor Flight. When he departs September 26th, he'll break the record set just last month by Don Revert, who was nearly 100 on his trip. The Honor Flight program is a national grass-roots effort that began sending World War Two veterans to Washington in 2005. Maier was 30 in early 1942 when he was drafted by the Army. He served in the newly created Army Air Corps as a military police officer. His family says he was never sent overseas during the war.

Missouri Valley Conference Gives Major Programs Major Workout

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — If the Big 12 ever wants to expand to 12 members again, the league's powerbrokers might want to take a look at poaching a couple schools from the Missouri Valley Conference...though the University of Kansas and Kansas State might quickly object. Both of them had to work against schools from the Football Championship Subdivision in their season openers Saturday. They weren't alone, either: Wisconsin had to make a late defensive stand to beat Northern Iowa, Indiana State took Indiana to the brink, and Pittsburgh was embarrassed by Youngstown State in Paul Chryst's debut as Panthers coach. It was a banner day for the Missouri Valley Conference. The league may be better-known for its basketball teams, but the league now has 11 football wins against members of BCS conferences since 2000.


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