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Regional Headlines for Sunday, February 19, 2012


Kansas House Speaker's Remap Plan Splits KC Area

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House Speaker Mike O'Neal is floating a new congressional redistricting plan that would split the Kansas City area between two districts and put part of it in a district with rural western Kansas communities 400 miles away.

The proposal from O'Neal was among several for redrawing the state's four congressional districts unveiled this week during a meeting of the House Redistricting Committee.

O'Neal's plan would put most of Wyandotte County in the 1st District of western and central Kansas.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, has been predicting for months that O'Neal would push to move Wyandotte County into the 1st Congressional District, to dissipate the potential influence of one of the few Democratic-leaning areas of the state.



Wounded Fort Riley Soldier Finally Home in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Ten months and more than 100 surgeries after he suffered a paralyzing bullet wound in Afghanistan, a Fort Riley soldier has completed his long journey home to Topeka.

Dozens of members of the American Legion and Patriot Guard Riders stood at attention Friday as a private medical plane carrying 27-year-old Sgt. Jamie Jarboe touched down at Philip Billard Memorial Airport. He was moved onto a stretcher and placed in an ambulance for a ride to a Topeka rehab facility, escorted by Patriot Guard motorcyclists, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported ( ).

The turnout was especially gratifying for Jarboe's wife, Melissa Jarboe.

"Jamie's just going to be flabbergasted and amazed," she said while waiting on the tarmac.

There are times, she said, that her husband believes that "some people forget — some people don't care about the soldiers. I tell him, 'I beg to differ.' Today it really shows how strong the support is for him here in Topeka, Kan."

Jamie Jarboe was unable to fully return the salutes of those who gave him a hero's welcome, but he could lift a hand and wave briefly.

Jarboe had been in Afghanistan about two months when a sniper's bullet struck him in the neck while he was on foot patrol April 10. The bullet penetrated his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.

He has undergone more than 100 surgeries, first at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., then at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore before he was transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Denver. Melissa Jarboe has spent as much time as possible with him while their two daughters remained in Topeka to attend school.

Jarboe still faces several more surgeries, but Melissa Jarboe said she's happy to have him back in Topeka, where she and their daughters will be able to see him daily.

The homecoming took place three days after Valentine's Day, which was the couple's first wedding anniversary. The family has "put God first" to help them endure the past 10 months, she said.

"It's better that way, instead of asking, 'Why me?'" she said.



Rev. Taylor, Foe of Liquor, Gambling, Dies in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Rev. Richard Taylor, a minister who spent years lobbying against liquor and gambling in Kansas, has died. He was 87.

Taylor's daughter, Mary Haas, of Wichita, told The Associated Press on Saturday that Taylor died in Andover on Friday after a recent hospitalization for pneumonia.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports ( ) that Taylor was sent by the United Methodist Church to Topeka, where he became well-known for more than two decades in the halls of the Statehouse, lobbying legislators and raising funds for anti-alcohol and anti-gambling causes.

Taylor was also a staunch advocate for historic preservation in Shawnee County and wrote a book, "I Love Kansas," which chronicled many historically important places and people of the Sunflower State.

Services are scheduled for Tuesday at the United Methodist Church in Enterprise.



Number of US Farms Drops Slightly, Stable in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The National Agricultural Statistics Service says the number of farms in the U.S. dropped slightly last year and the amount of land used for farming continued to decline.

A report released Friday shows the nation had 2.18 million farms last year. That's down from 2.19 million farms the previous year.

Meanwhile, the amount of land used for crops, pasture and grazing dwindled further to some 916.9 million acres. That is 1.85 million fewer acres than in 2010. The average U.S. farm size last year was 420 acres.

In Kansas, the numbers remained stable. Kansas had 65,500 farms in 2011, unchanged from 2010.

Some 46 million acres in Kansas were used for crops, pasture and grazing last year. That's down from 46.1 million in 2010. Kansas farms averaged 702 acres.



Paul says US 'Slipping Into a Fascist System'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul says the U.S. is "slipping into a fascist system" dominated by an alliance between big government and large corporations.

The Texas Congressman drew an estimated 2,000 standing and chanting people to Kansas City's Union Station as the party's establishment dined on steak across the street at the Missouri GOP's annual conference.

Kansas Republicans were holding a similar convention in a suburb across the state line. Paul told reporters afterward he hadn't been aware of the GOP events being held nearby prior to his speech.

Paul's event came on an evening when the Des Moines Register released a poll showing him with the widest lead of three Republican presidential contenders over President Barack Obama if the election were held this week in Iowa. Both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum had leads within the poll's margin of error in a state that Obama won in 2008.



Free Dental Clinic in KCK Draws Big Crowd

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A free dental clinic in Kansas City, Kansas has attracted hundreds of people for the two-day event.

The Kansas City Star reports that people lined up at the Kansas Mission of Mercy clinic late Thursday to get a spot in the clinic, which opened Friday and continued through Saturday. More than 1,000 people were treated Friday, and a similar crowd was expected on Saturday.

Cindi Sherwood, of Independence, Kansas is one of 173 dentists volunteering. She said dentists at the event were doing "thousands and thousands of fillings and lots of extractions." She said many of the patients have jobs but don't have dental insurance.

Kansas is among a growing number of states, including Missouri, where dentists are organizing Mission of Mercy clinics to reach these underserved patients.


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