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Regional Headlines for Monday, September 9, 2013


Issues With KS Voter Citizenship Rule to Linger

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have learned that administrative issues are likely to linger from a state law requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship. The issue arose Monday because Department of Revenue officials told a legislative committee they don't have a timetable for requiring everyone who seeks to renew a driver's license to provide citizenship documents. People can fill out voter registration forms at driver's license offices. Some legislators assumed that people renewing driver's licenses would be required to provide citizenship documents and therefore comply at the same time with the proof-of-citizenship rule for new voters. But more than 16,600 prospective voters have their registrations on hold because they haven't provided proof of their citizenship. Many filled out registration forms at driver's license offices.


Kansas Moved Quickly to Get 'Hard 50' Fix into Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials took extraordinary steps to ensure that legislation fixing the state's "Hard 50" criminal sentencing law is now in effect. Spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said Monday that Governor Sam Brownback wanted the period of uncertainty surrounding the law to be as short as possible. The law allows convicted murderers to be sentenced to serve at least 50 years in prison. Previously, judges decided on imposing the sentence. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June said juries had to do it — and lawmakers passed the fix during a special session last week. Brownback signed it Friday when the bill was delivered to his office. The bill took effect upon its publication in the state's official weekly digest of legal notices. A special edition was published Friday.


Analysis: Kansas to Compare Court Selection Methods

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's allies and critics have waged an intense debate over changes in picking Kansas Court of Appeals judges. But Kansans should soon have a real-world contrast between the new system and the one it replaced. The state Senate last week confirmed Brownback's chief counsel, Caleb Stegall, to a Court of Appeals seat under a law taking effect in July. He appoints the judges, subject to Senate confirmation. But the Kansas Supreme Court still falls under the old system. It has an attorney-led nominating commission screen applicants for vacancies and name three finalists, with no role for legislators after the governor's appointment. And a state Supreme Court vacancy is likely next year because Justice Nancy Moritz has been nominated to a federal appeals court.


Some Counties Charging Nonresidents Extra Fees at Driver's License Offices

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas counties have started charging additional fees to out-of-county residents who've been flooding their driver's license offices to avoid long lines in larger cities. The Hutchinson News reports that Harvey and Butler counties in southeast Kansas have implemented the fees, while county treasurers in smaller counties also are considering an additional charge. Wichita resident Tammy Katzenmeier says she didn't mind paying an extra $20 last week to get her driver's license renewed in Harvey County to avoid what likely would have been several hours in a Wichita driver's license office. Instead, she was in and out of the Newton office in 10 minutes. Kansas Department of Revenue spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda says things will settle down now that the summer rush of teens taking their driver's tests is over.


Lawrence Police See Uptick in Home Invasions

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police say they are seeing an alarming increase in the number of home invasions, most of which involve drugs, money and young people who are seen as easy targets by criminals. The Lawrence Journal-World reports there have been at least five home invasions in the city since December, but police think there have been many more not reported. In some of the cases people who aren't involved in drugs have been terrorized after the intended target moved away. Police spokesman Sergeant Trent McKinley says other times the victims are reluctant to call police because the property that's been stolen is illegal and they don't want to tell officers the whole story. McKinley says one disturbing aspect of the home invasion trend is that firearms are more frequently involved.


Corvette Driver Carjacked in Topeka

Topeka police say a man was carjacked when he took his 2012 Chevy Corvette to a car wash last (SUN) night around 10:00 pm. Police say two men, armed with a shotgun and handgun, stole the car. The Corvette was later recovered.


5 Kansas Lakes Targeted in Health Warnings for Algae

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Public health warnings have been issued for five Kansas lakes because of dangerous levels of toxic blue-green algae. Less restrictive advisories have been issued for three other lakes. The warnings from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment prohibit swimming, wading, skiing or other direct contact with the water. Lakes now under warnings include Hiawatha City Lake and Mission Lake, both in Brown County; Lake Warnock in Atchison County; Logan City Lake in Phillips County; and Memorial Park Lake in Barton County. The agency posted advisories for Colwich Memorial Park Lake in Sedgwick County as well as two in Johnson County — Rose's Lake and South Park Lake. The advisories allow boating and fishing but strongly discourage direct water contact.


Fort Riley to Hold Annual 9/11 Commemoration

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — The names of four more soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan will be added to a monument at Fort Riley as the northeast Kansas post marks the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Wednesday's commemoration begins at 10 am at the Global War on Terrorism monument, located between the parade field and the Cavalry Museum. It's open to the public and will include remarks by Major General Paul Funk, commander of Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division. The monument is a small replica of the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center with a base in the shape of the Pentagon. It bears the names of all soldiers assigned to Fort Riley who died in Afghanistan and Iraq. The four new names will bring the total to 208.


3 Sentenced for Fire at Well-Known KC Restaurant

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The former part-owner of Kansas City's Hereford House restaurant has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for arranging an arson fire that destroyed the downtown landmark. The U.S. Attorney's office says 60-year-old Rodney Anderson won't be eligible for parole under the sentence he received Monday in federal court. Two men who set the October 2008 fire were also sentenced Monday — 59-year-old Vincent Pisciotta to 20 years and 47-year-old Mark Sorrentino to 15 years, both without parole. All three were convicted last year of conspiracy, arson and using fire to commit a federal crime. Anderson was also convicted of mail fraud. Prosecutors said Anderson was in debt and conspired with Pisciotta and Sorrentino to burn the restaurant and to get insurance money to rebuild.


Head-On Crash Kills 2 in SW Kansas

CIMARRON, Kan. (AP) — A head-on collision involving a pickup truck and a semi hauling grain has left two men dead in southwest Kansas. The Highway Patrol says the crash occurred around 6 am Monday on U.S. 50, about 10 miles west of Cimarron. The patrol identifies the victims as the pickup's driver, 20-year-old Cesar Bautista-Cruz, and his passenger, 22-year-old Jeremiah Lee. Both were from Dodge City. Troopers said the crash happened when Bautista-Cruz tried to pass a westbound vehicle making a turn at an Ingalls feedlot and collided with the eastbound tractor-trailer. The accident closed a 30-mile stretch of U.S. 50 between Garden City and Cimarron for several hours.


Report: Rain Helps Irrigated Corn; Dry Land Corn Suffering

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — The rain that fell in parts of Kansas this summer helped irrigated corn but left dry land corn thirsty for more. John Holman, an agronomist with Kansas State University Southwest Research Extension Center, says the irrigated corn harvest is expected to be better than it has been in the past two years. He says 50 to 60 percent of the irrigated corn is in good condition, with about 30 percent in good to excellent condition. Holman told The Garden City Telegram that the dry land crop didn't profit as much from the rain. He says the dry land corn's condition improves the farther east in Kansas but 75 percent of that crop is poor to very poor.


KCMO Police Officers Overcome by Meth Fumes at Death Scene 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Five Kansas City police officers have been treated at area hospitals after being overcome by fumes from a meth lab in an apartment where they were investigating a death. The Kansas City Star reports that two people at the studio apartment called police around 9:15 pm Sunday after they noticed their friend was dead. Officers found a man who appeared to be sleeping on a mattress, and they believe he may have overdosed on drugs. Five officers at the scene complained of a reaction to fumes coming from a methamphetamine lab in the apartment's bathroom and were taken to hospitals, where they were treated and released. Meth investigators dismantled the lab and removed the hazardous chemicals. The two people at the apartment were detained for questioning.


68-Year-Old KS Man Is Homicide Victim

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County police say a 68-year-old man whose body was found during a welfare check over the weekend was the victim of a homicide. Police spokesman Matthew Droge says evidence at the rural Manhattan residence Sunday afternoon indicates John Burroughs was killed. He declined to provide any other details, including cause of death. Burroughs was found around 2:30 pm. Police are asking anyone with information about what happened to him to contact the police department or Manhattan Riley County Crime Stoppers.

2 Kansas City Airports Win Federal Grants

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two Kansas City airports have won a total of $12 million in federal grants for field improvements. The Kansas City Star reported Monday that the Federal Aviation Administration awarded the grants to the Kansas City International and the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown airports. The Kansas City Aviation Department says about $5.1 million will go toward a $6.7 million repair of Taxiway A at KCK. The FAA generally funds 75 percent of airfield improvement projects at the airport, with the aviation department funding the rest. At the downtown airport, the FAA awarded a $4.2 million grant toward a $4.7 million project to upgrade the airport's taxiway system. And it provided another $2.7 million to finance most of the cost of building an aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle storage facility.


Wichita School Board to Clarify Policy on Reporting Abuse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita school district is considering revising its policy for reporting suspected abuse. The change the board will consider Monday comes more than a year after the controversial firing of a kindergarten teacher. The long-time teacher acknowledged that she delayed reporting allegations of sexual abuse for two weeks. The Wichita Eagle reports that the proposed policy would direct employees to call 911 immediately if they witness a situation "that may constitute criminal activity." The addition was prompted by concerns that the policy did not expressly direct teachers to call police, but instead required them to call district security. Kansas law requires teachers, doctors, counselors and other mandatory reporters to inform either local law enforcement or the Kansas Protection Reporting Center if they suspect a child has been abused.

Sedgwick County Grapples with Clogged Waterways

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Strong wind storms followed by heavy rains this summer have piled more debris in Sedgwick County's creeks than public works deputy director Jim Weber has seen in his 31 years with the county. The Wichita Eagle reports the county's task of clearing the waterways is tougher because of a lack of manpower and tough environmental rules. Weber says a June 27th storm packing 80 mile per hour winds tossed limbs and trees into the county's waterways, and five weeks of rainfall that followed washed the debris into places where they clogged the creeks and stream. The county's stream-cleaning crew now works from a hot-spot list of 15 to 20 priority areas that need urgent attention. Weber said that alone is enough to keep his crew busy for three to five years.

Kansas Deputies Find Body in Burned Vehicle

GARDNER, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after finding a body in a burning vehicle in rural Johnson County. The Johnson County Sheriff's Office says deputies made the discovery around 5:30 am Sunday while responding to a fire call in an unincorporated part of the county near Gardner. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the blaze. The identity of the victim couldn't immediately be determined.

2 Kansans Die in Missouri Crash

DEARBORN, Mo. (AP) — A man and woman from Kansas City, Kansas have died after their vehicle went off the side of Interstate 29 and landed in a Missouri creek. The Missouri State Highway Patrol identified the victims as 35-year-old Crystal Harris and 51-year-old Robert Richardson. The accident happened Saturday afternoon near the Platte County town of Dearborn, Missouri. The patrol says the driver lost control of the vehicle before swerving through a guardrail and bridge abutment. The vehicle then traveled down a steep embankment and came to rest in a creek.


Oklahoma Man Admits Robbing SE Kansas Bank

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An Oklahoma man has pleaded guilty to robbing a bank in southeast Kansas earlier this summer. The U.S. Attorney's office says 44-year-old Thomas Hass, of Quapaw, entered the plea Monday in federal court in Wichita. He faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing November 25. Investigators said Hass entered the American Branch in Galena on July 22 and requested a loan application. He then pulled a gun and demanded money. The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun that shot rubber pellets. Hass was arrested within days after surveillance photos from a nearby convenience store brought tips from the public. One caller said Hass had approached a woman saying he had recently obtained a large amount of money and wanted to take her to Las Vegas.


Preservation Stalls on 1869 Lawrence Building

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Problems preserving a historic Lawrence building might force a glass studio with a national reputation out of business. The city has declared part of the 1869 Turnhalle building unfit for habitation because of a serious mold problem. That area of the building houses Free State Glass, which is known for handmade glass items ranging from paperweights to chandeliers. Free State Glass co-owner Dick Rector says the Lawrence Preservation Alliance, which owns the building, failed at fixing the building. But the president of the alliance says the group found there was no short-term solution to fixing a leaking roof, and work to fix the problem cannot be started until November at the earliest. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Rector says he's unsure what will happen to his company.

6 Former Ag Secretaries to Speak at K-State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A panel of six former agriculture secretaries will give the next installment of the Landon Lecture series at Kansas State University. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the October 21st event at McCain Auditorium will take the form of a question-and-answer session. The panelists will be Mike Johanns, Ann Veneman, Dan Glickman, Mike Espy, Clayton Yeutter and John Block. University chief of staff Jackie Hartman says that having six agriculture leaders share the same stage is "nothing short of monumental." The speakers were picked as the school celebrates its 150th anniversary and birth as a land-grant institution. The Landon Lecture is named for Governor Alf Landon, a Republican who was Kansas governor from 1933 to 1937. Landon lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election.


Koch Industries Buying Molex for About $6.86B

LISLE, Ill. (AP) — Koch Industries is buying electronic components and cables maker Molex for approximately $6.86 billion. Koch — run by the billionaire brothers Charles and David — said Monday that it will pay $38.50 per Molex Incorporated share. That's a 31 percent premium to the company's $29.34 Friday closing price. The companies put the deal's total value at about $7.2 billion. Molex has about 178.2 million outstanding shares, according to FactSet. It will remain headquartered in Lisle, Illinois and will keep its current management team. Molex will also keep its company name and will run as a Koch subsidiary. Koch, based in Wichita, owns a variety of businesses. Both companies' boards approved the transaction, which is expected to close by year's end. It still needs shareholder approval.


Researchers: Clean Air Act Is Helping Forests

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A team of university scientists has found that federal clean-air laws have helped forests recover from pollution. Kansas State University associate biology professor Jesse Nippert collaborated on the project with West Virginia University researchers. Kansas State says in a news release the researchers spent four years studying more than 100 years' worth of rings in Eastern red cedar trees in the central Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. The region is downwind of the Ohio River Valley coal power plants and experienced high amounts of acidic pollution in the 20th century. The scientists found that the trees fared better in the decades since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970. Their findings appear in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Man Escapes from Shawnee County Jail

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement officers are looking for a state prisoner who walked away from a work release program in Shawnee County. Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay says 25-year-old David Kerth escaped Sunday morning. He is described as 5-feet-10-inches tall and about 200 pounds, with short brown hair and hazel eyes. No further details about how he escaped were released. WIBW reports that Kerth was jailed in 2007 for a Douglas County robbery and entered the state corrections system for a 2012 probation violation. He was working at a Shawnee County processing plant as part of a state work release program. The county is responsible for transporting work release inmates to and from their work.

Authorities Arrest Man Following Long Standoff

RUSSELL, Kan. (AP) — A Russell man is in custody after a standoff at a home that lasted nearly 8½ hours. Russell County Sheriff John Fletcher says the standoff began Sunday evening when the man barricaded himself in a home, and threatened either to shoot officers or commit suicide. The standoff ended early Monday. Fletcher says in a statement that officers found Clayton Becker hiding under basement stairs and he was arrested after a brief struggle. The man was wanted on several felony charges.

Arkansas Sheriff Faces Removal from Office

SHERIDAN, Ark. (AP) — Grant County Sheriff Ray Vance faces possible removal from office due to a 2010 misdemeanor conviction in Kansas. Vance pleaded guilty in November 2010 to false representation to secure a lifetime Kansas hunting license. Vance and his attorney declined comment — but Vance has filed an appeal of the conviction that says it was unconstitutional. Arkansas prosecutors filed a petition in February to remove Vance from office — saying the conviction is an "infamous crime." Special Prosecutor Jack McQuary told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he has pulled the petition to remove Vance rom office until the appeal is heard in Kansas. McQuary says there are "some very good constitutional questions" about the conviction — including whether he was properly warned about the dangers of representing himself in court.

Wichita State Basketball Player Released from Hospital

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University freshman basketball player D.J. Bowles is out of the hospital, nearly a week after he collapsed during a workout. The university says Bowles, a freshman guard, was released from Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis Sunday. Bowles collapsed during practice on Tuesday evening at Koch Arena. The university says in a news release that Bowles, from Cleveland, Tennessee, will undergo more tests to determine the cause of his collapse.


K-State Coach Writes Letter to NDSU's Jensen

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Bison quarterback Brock Jensen is still picking up congratulations for the North Dakota State upset over Kansas State, including from head coach Bill Snyder. The Forum reports that Snyder sent a hand-written letter to Jensen congratulating the senior. He wrote that he was impressed with him and his teammates and that Jensen "played so very well, virtually error-free and with such poise." NDSU defeated the Wildcats 24-21 in the August 30 season opener in Manhattan. Jensen scored the game-winning touchdown with 28 seconds remaining. K-State came into that game as the defending Big 12 Conference champions.


Chiefs Off to Winning Start under Reid, Smith

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs scored more points in their season opener than they did in any game last season. They piled up six sacks, returned an interception for a touchdown and didn't allow the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars to score on offense. The result? New coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith have the Chiefs off to a 1-0 start, halfway to their win total from all of last season. The Chiefs' emphatic 28-2 result Sunday was their most lopsided season-opening win since beating Denver 59-7 in 1963. It also made Reid the first Chiefs coach to win his opener since Frank Gansz in 1987.



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