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Regional Headlines for Monday, September 30, 2013


Kansas Revenues Fall Short of Expectations in Past 3 Months

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says Kansas collected slightly less in taxes than expected in the first quarter of the fiscal year, but officials believe the shortfall may actually be a positive economic sign. The Department of Revenue reported Monday the state collected $1.37 billion in taxes from July through September, about $8.5 million below expectations. Corporate income tax collections during those three months fell nearly 12 percent short of projections. The state had expected to take in $97 million and instead collected less than $86 million. The department says the shortfall might reflect businesses buying more equipment than expected and claiming bigger tax breaks as a result.


Kansas Hospitals Unhappy with KanCare Payment Delays

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Hospitals are complaining that it's taking longer to get reimbursed since the state switched to a new managed care plan for Medicaid. When KanCare rolled out in January, most of the state's Medicaid recipients were moved into plans administered by three private companies. Cindy Samuelson of the Kansas Hospital Association says that since the switch, hospitals have reported problems getting reimbursed for services they perform. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that hospitals also estimate it is taking three to 10 days to authorize treatment. Samuelson says the state has attempted to deal with the authorization issues, but the problem persists. The change to KanCare was promoted as a way to save money and improve care. Governor Sam Brownback announced earlier this month that $37 million had been saved so far.


Kansas Officials Stand by New Science Standards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas education officials say they're committed to the use of new science standards in public schools despite a federal lawsuit attempting to block the guidelines. The State Board of Education and state Department of Education are defending multistate standards adopted by the board in June. They issued a joint statement noting that the standards were approved after nearly two years of work on them. The lawsuit was filed last week by parents and a nonprofit group that had criticized the standards over how they treat evolution. The guidelines reflect the mainstream scientific view that evolution is well-established science. The plaintiffs contend the standards will have schools indoctrinating students with an atheistic philosophy, in violation of their religious freedoms. But the board and department said the standards provide strong science education.

Rains Help Wheat Planting in Arid Western Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Recents rain in far western Kansas have bolstered topsoil moisture conditions as winter wheat planting gets underway across the state. Kansas Wheat marketing director Aaron Harries says people have a reason to be pleased. He says conditions have improved dramatically over last fall, though technically much of the western third of the state remains in a drought. The National Agricultural Statistics Service says about 70 percent of west-central Kansas has adequate to surplus topsoil moisture. In northwest Kansas, about 65 percent falls in that category. Some areas in western Kansas received up to 5 inches of rain in recent weeks. Even southwest Kansas — which missed the heavier rains — is still in better shape than a year ago with 37 percent adequate to surplus topsoil moisture.

KS GOP Leader Responds to Court Budget Concerns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Senate Republican is suggesting to a court-appointed budget panel that there are other options available to prevent cuts in operations of the Kansas judicial system. Senate Vice President Jeff King sent a letter dated Friday to members of a newly appointed budget council that will look at ways to increase funding and improve efficiencies within the state court system. King says in the letter that not everything that has been said about the court budget is accurate. King says there have been previous recommendations for efficiencies that haven't been considered by legislators before any action is taken to close courthouses or layoff judicial staff.

KS Counties Awaiting Federal Funds to Fix Damage

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Several flood-plagued Kansas counties are hoping temporary repairs to roads and bridges can withstand autumn rains until federal funds are available for more permanent fixes. Governor Sam Brownback last week requested a federal disaster declaration for 47 counties because of storm damage and flooding that hit much of Kansas between July 22 and August 16. The governor said some of those counties received as much as five times their normal amount of rainfall. Harvey County emergency management director Lon Buller told The Wichita Eagle flooding was so widespread at one point that you couldn't drive across his county without going through some water. Buller says some townships have as little as $10,000 in their budgets to make repairs but more than $200,000 worth of damage.

States Resist, Build Nascent Insurance Markets

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Consumers in many Southern and Plains states will have to look harder than their counterparts elsewhere for information on how new online health insurance marketplaces work. In Republican-led states that oppose the federal Affordable Care Act, the strategy toward the marketplaces launching Tuesday has ranged from largely ignoring the health overhaul to resistance. Most states across the South have declined federal grants to advertise the exchanges and ceded the right to run the marketplaces themselves. Governors from the Carolinas to Kansas have decried the exchanges and the rest of the law. That contrasts with several of the 14 Northeast, Midwest and Western states running their own insurance exchanges. Residents there have seen weeks of marketing and advertising campaigns to help them prepare to buy health insurance.

Feds Consider Request to Drill on KS Wetlands

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says Cheyenne Bottoms, a central Kansas site that includes internationally recognized wetlands, aren't fully functioning and could be threatened by oil drilling. Heather Whitlaw, field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Manhattan, says her agency opposes a recent request by a Kansas company to drill for oil in Cheyenne Bottoms, a 41,000-acre land sink that's also the largest interior marsh in the U.S. and where about 250,000 waterfowl stop during seasonal migrations. The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to have a decision by the end of the year. The Fish and Wildlife Service also has concerns about the impact of nearby oil production outside the Bottoms, which is on the state's list of impaired waters because of siltation and oxygen depletion.


Lake Shawnee Searched Amid KS Man's Death Investigation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Divers are searching a northeast Kansas lake as part of the investigation into the 2012 shooting death of a developer. Officers investigating the death of 39-year-old Corey Michael Brown retrieved several items by noon Monday from Lake Shawnee. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the retrieved items included lawn chairs, fishing poles, old bottles and cans. Forty-year-old Monroe E. Lockhart is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his friend and business partner. Lockhart also faces a felony arson charge in Shawnee County District Court. Lockhart is already incarcerated for other crimes. Earlier this year, he was sentenced to serve nearly 10 years in prison in connection with a November 2011 home invasion. The dive team comes from Douglas County. It was requested by the Topeka Police Department.


Suspect on Trial in Wichita Store Killings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The suspect in last year's fatal shootings of two people at a Dollar General store in Wichita is going on trial. KAKE-TV reports that jury selection for the case against 20-year-old Marquis Marshall began Monday in Sedgwick County District Court. Marshall is accused of killing 22-year-old store employee Zachary Hunt and 79-year-old customer Henry Harvey on November 30, 2012. Harvey was at the counter buying candy for his grandchildren when he and Hunt were both shot several times. Wichita police have not speculated on a motive for the killings. Marshall was arrested several days later in a traffic stop. He's charged with capital murder, but prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. The trial is expected to take several days.


KS Car Stop Leads to Kidnapping Discovery

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two people are in custody after Kansas Highway Patrol officers stopped a car Sunday evening near Kansas City, Kansas, only to discover two more people locked in the vehicle's trunk. Topeka police said Monday that the two people in the trunk are believed to be two victims who were taken Sunday evening during a carjacking in Topeka. Spokeswoman Kristen Veverka says in a statement that Topeka officers were sent to Kansas City to continue their investigation. Messages left for Topeka police weren't immediately returned. The two people who were arrested were being held in Kansas City. The initially fled and foot and were caught by law enforcement officials in the area. The pursuit began near an interchange on Interstate 70 near the Turner Diagonal in Kansas City.


Ex-Kansas Water Office Chief Paroled After 10 Years

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas official has been paroled after serving more than 10 years for kidnapping, burglary and sodomy. Sixty-six-year-old Alan LeDoux, who headed the Kansas Water Office, was sentenced in 2003 for breaking into the Topeka home of one of his wife's relatives and attacking the woman. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that LeDoux was released on parole Friday under supervision in Jackson County. The Holton resident had pleaded guilty to the charges stemming from the 2002 attack. He was sentenced to 12 years and three months and entered prison in June 2003. LeDoux was director of the state's water policy agency from 1995 until he was placed on leave following his 2002 arrest. He had also been a top aide to former Republican governors Bill Graves and Mike Hayden.


Retired General to Speak at Kansas State University

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is speaking about military families at Kansas State University. Retired General Richard Myers will speak at 4 pm Thursday at the Little Theatre in the Student Union. The university says the presentation is titled "A National Perspective on the Transitioning and Reintegration of Our Military and Families." The College of Human Ecology's Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families is hosting the lecture. The institute addresses the health and resiliency of military personnel, veterans and their families through research, academic outreach and clinical service programs. Myers was raised in Johnson County and graduated from Kansas State University in 1965.


DA: Kansas Teen Waives Hearing in Fatal Fire

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 14-year-old Hutchinson boy will remain in custody as he faces two counts of first-degree murder in a suspicious house fire that killed his mother and 11-year-old sister. Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder said Monday the teen has waived his right to detention hearing, so no proceedings are planned Monday. Schroeder says he will file a motion later seeking to try the teen as an adult on the murder charges and a charge of the attempted murder of his father, who escaped the blaze without injury. He was also charged with aggravated arson The fire that engulfed the two-story house started early Thursday. Schroeder says the youth was not at the scene when firefighters arrived but returned to the house hours later.


KC Schools Superintendent Delivers Annual Speech

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The superintendent of the Kansas City school district says the school system has grown stronger after losing its accreditation. During his annual State of the School address, Superintendent Stephen Green said Monday that the district's goal isn't just partial accreditation but ultimately full accreditation The speech comes just days after Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said she wouldn't recommend provisional accreditation for the district. The final decision rests with the Missouri Board of Education. An accreditation boost would make the district no longer subject to a state law that allows students to transfer to accredited districts. Green has argued that the district is deserving of the upgrade after scoring in the provisionally accredited range this year. The state uses test scores and other data to evaluate districts.


Kansas Agencies Warn of Algae Threat to Hunting Dogs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas waterfowl hunters who use dogs are being urged this fall to keep the canines out of waterways contaminated with harmful blue-green algae. Officials with the state's health and wildlife departments say the dogs that drink or swim in contaminated water may become extremely ill or die. Eating dried algae along shorelines can have the same results. The agencies caution that dangerous blue-green algae blooms can remain a threat to humans and pets through October or later. Symptoms in dogs usually appear within 30 minutes, including vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and general weakness. Hunters whose dogs appear sick should contact a veterinarian immediately. Human exposure can cause similar symptoms, including headaches, fever and rashes.

Hang Glider Pilot Injured in Saguache County

SAGUACHE, Colo. (AP) — A hang glider pilot from Colwich, Kansas, has been found safe after he crashed in Colorado's Sangre de Cristo mountains. Saguache County Sheriff Mike Norris said Monday 25-year-old Kevin Suellentrop was found Sunday afternoon, but it took searchers time to find the man, who eventually walked out of the woods on his own and was treated for minor injuries. Norris said Suellentrop had just crossed over a mountain when the accident occurred.

Oklahoma Tribe Seeks to Expand Casino into Kansas

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — An Oklahoma tribe is asking Kansas for permission to expand its casino operation at Downstream Casino Resort into the state. The Joplin Globe reports that a consultant for the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma and the casino has contacted the Cherokee County (Kansas) Commission and city governments in Baxter Springs and Galena about the proposal. It would also need support from the Riverton School District. The casino wants to have Class 3 gaming, which consists of dice games and roulette, with the Kansas expansion because Oklahoma law prohibits it in casinos there except in electronic form. The plan would expand the casino north into nearly 124 acres in Kansas that currently serve as the casino's parking lot. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is opposing the effort.


KC-Area School's Construction Blamed for Erosion

SUGAR CREEK, Mo. (AP) — Construction of a suburban Kansas City elementary is blamed for erosion that has turned some streams dark, muddy and birdless. The Kansas City Star reports that Sugar Creek is pressing the Independence School District and its contractors to correct the problem. District spokeswoman Nancy Lewis says that fall grass seeding and sodding and other plantings on the property will aid immensely in prevention of further erosion. Problems arose after mud from construction flowed over temporary silt fences. The mud then covered city streets and settled in the beds of the community's small streams. Sugar Creek mayor Matt Mallinson says he's satisfied by the district's response.


KC Team Claims Laser-Powered Drone Flight Record

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A team of Kansas City robotics enthusiasts is celebrating after achieving an aeronautical feat using solar panels. The Kansas City Star reports that the KC Space pirates used the panels to keep a toy helicopter airborne for more than 24 hours. They achieved the feat this weekend at the Vox Theatre in Kansas City, Kansas. The whole weekend was broadcast live online and recorded with time clocks running. But Brian Turner of the KC Space Pirates, says no organization officially recognized the achievement or that of the previous record holders.


Hutchinson Has Hands Full with Alligators, Pythons

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson police have been dealing with some slimy creatures over the past few months, but not of the human kind. The Hutchinson News reports that the latest encounter was with a 5-foot-long alligator last week that was found in a wooden crate in a garage. That reptile was taken to the Hutchinson Zoo, where it is being kept temporarily. A second, 2-foot-long alligator that was found earlier in the month was sent on Friday to Monkey Island, a nonprofit animal rescue in southwest Missouri. Those findings came after a 4-foot-long ball python was found on a porch of a home July 30, and a similar snake was found dead a month later after being struck by a vehicle. Police say it's illegal to own pythons or alligators in the city.

Pittsburg State Dropping Spanish, French Majors

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Pittsburg State University has announced it is doing away with its Spanish and French bachelor of arts degree programs because not enough students are seeking or completing those degrees. The Joplin Globe reports the southeast Kansas school told students already in those programs they will be allowed to finish their degrees, but no additional students will be allowed to declare a major in either program. The Kansas Board of Regents has established criteria mandating that programs generally have 15 degree-seeking students enrolled and 10 graduates each year, averaged over a five-year period. But Karl Kunkel, dean of Pittsburg State's College of Arts and Sciences, says the school's French degree had low numbers of majors and few graduates, while the Spanish degree had enough people majoring but not enough graduating.

60 Years Later, Man Gets High School Diploma

JACKSON, Mo. (AP) — Sixty-years after Dean Percival's high school classmates graduated, he has now received his diploma, too. The Southeast Missourian reports that Percival was presented his diploma from Axtell High School in Kansas during a ceremony Friday in southeast Missouri, where he now lives. Axtell principal Bob Bartkoski made the 600-mile trip to give Percival, of Cape Girardeau, the diploma. He told about 50 friends and relatives it is based on Percival's life experiences and accomplishments. Percival dropped out of school in the 10th grade to help support his family, which included five siblings. Percival's career was mostly with sign companies in several places, including Cape Girardeau. Now 78, he wore a paper mortar and tassel as he received the framed diploma.

NY Governor Urges More Study of Plum Island Sale

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — New York's governor says questions about the environmental condition of Plum Island need further study before the federal government proceeds with its sale. The island off eastern Long Island is home to the nation's only laboratory that studies infectious diseases that could imperil the nation's livestock industry. Congress has approved a plan to move the lab to a new facility in Manhattan, Kansas, and sell the island to defray the costs. Elected officials in both New York and Connecticut oppose the sale. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that state environmental officials have questions about the condition of the island. He says those issues need to be addressed before a sale proceeds. The General Services Administration is overseeing the sale. A spokesman there did not immediately comment.


KC Chiefs Still Unbeaten as NFL Week 5 Begins


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are off to a 4-0 start. That's more-or-less the same Chiefs team that went just 2-14 last season. The Chiefs pounded the New York Giants 31-7 on Sunday to keep their perfect record intact, though they didn't come out of it unscathed. Right tackle Eric Fisher is being monitored after a suspected concussion and running back Jamaal Charles has badly blistered feet. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday he'll leave Fisher's status up to the team's medical staff, but he believes that Charles will be OK for next Sunday's game at Tennessee.


Optimism Abounds After Royals Finish Season with 86-76 Record


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals finished 86-76 for their best record since 1989, and now their bevy of young players are looking toward a future that looks bright. Still, there are plenty of questions heading into next season. Will manager Ned Yost be back? Will they find a big bat for right field? Will they retain or replace right-hander Ervin Santana? Will some of the young pitchers develop into starters? Will they take the final step needed to make the postseason? Royals owner David Glass said it will be up to GM Dayton Moore to decide whether Yost will be back. Moore will also be the one shaping the roster for next season, even though most of it returns intact. Santana looms as the only significant loss in free agency.




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