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Regional Headlines for Thursday, August 22, 2013


State Consumer Agency Seeks Smaller Westar Rate Increase

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas consumer advocate agency says Westar Energy can get by with a smaller rate increase and still be able to make necessary environmental improvements at its power plants. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that David Springe, an attorney for the Citizens Utility Ratepayers Board, filed testimony Wednesday with the Kansas Corporation Commission saying Westar could reduce its rate increase request by $1 million and still accomplish its goals. Westar, the largest electric utility in Kansas, is seeking a $31.7 million rate increase from its customers. The utility is seeking the increase to pay for $1.2 billion in environmental upgrades at its LaCygne plant in eastern Kansas. CURB also argues against Westar's plan to shift the burden of the increase away from large businesses to residential customers.

Kansas to Keep Driver's License Stations Open Longer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas residents will continue to have extended access to five driver's license stations in a state agency's effort to keep lines moving. The Department of Revenue's Division of Vehicles announced Wednesday that stations in Andover, Mission, Olathe, Topeka and Wichita will remain open Monday through Friday. The decision follows a practice this summer of keeping the Mission and Wichita offices open an extra day of the week. All other offices statewide will be open Tuesday through Friday, keeping in place a practice that first began in 1983. Division Director Donna Shelite says the five offices were among the busiest in Kansas and that keeping extra hours will decrease the time it takes for residents to conduct their affairs. The division is hiring new staff to handle the extra hours.


UPDATE: Manning Arrives at Fort Leavenworth Prison

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Officials at Fort Leavenworth say Bradley Manning has arrived at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks to begin serving a 35-year prison term. A brief statement from the northeast Kansas post Thursday afternoon gave no other details about Manning's arrival or status. He previously spent nearly two years at an adjacent prison while awaiting court-martial. The soldier was sentenced Wednesday for sending classified government material to WikiLeaks. Manning announced Thursday he intends to live as a woman and go by the name Chelsea Manning. He said he would ask the Army to let him begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. Army spokesman George Marcec says Manning will have access to mental health professionals but the prison system doesn't provide hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery for inmates.


Fire Damages Military Goods Store in Junction City

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Investigators are looking for the cause of a fire that gutted a military goods retailer in Junction City. The blaze was reported around 11:30 pm Wednesday in a building that houses the Military Outlet as well as a Masonic lodge on its two upper floors. Fire officials estimate the damage at $300,000. KJCK-AM reports that the Masonic lodge had significant smoke damage and lost part of its dining room floor to the flames. Two nearby businesses had minor smoke damage. State Fire Marshal's investigator Larry Shoemaker says the fire began near the rear of the building. Crews from nearby Fort Riley helped fight the blaze.


KDHE: Kansas Infant Mortality Rate Increases Slightly

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say the state's infant mortality rate has edged higher. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday the number of infant deaths rose from 247 in 2011 to 254 in 2012. That works out to an infant mortality rate of 6.3 deaths per 1,000 live births last year, up from 6.2 in 2011. But KDHE also notes that the 2011 rate was the lowest in Kansas since the state began keeping records in 1912. Leading causes of infant deaths in Kansas are prematurity, low birth weight, birth defects, sudden infant death syndrome, suffocation in bed and pregnancy complications in the mother. The agency cited a research brief published by its Bureau of Epidemiology and Public Health Informatics.


Ex-Soldier Convicted of Killing Kansas Guard Member

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A former Fort Riley soldier has been convicted of first-degree murder in the death of a Kansas National Guard member outside a Manhattan motorcycle club. KAYS-AM reports that a jury in Riley County District Court deliberated less than an hour Thursday before returning the verdict against 27-year-old Daniel Parker, of Junction City. Parker was accused of opening fire on the "Assassin Street Rydaz" clubhouse as the victim, 21-year-old Frederick Beverly, manned the gate for a party early on New Year's Day, 2012. Prosecutors said Parker had argued earlier with a club member. Parker testified Thursday that he didn't know Beverly and didn't notice anyone outside the building. Jurors also heard Thursday from Parker's mother, who said her son had been "very withdrawn" after his second deployment to Iraq. 


Kansas, Arizona Sue to Change Voting Forms

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas and Arizona officials have filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to force a federal elections agency to change its voter registration forms to compel proof of citizenship. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Topeka and seeks to force the Elections Assistance Commission to modify federal voter registration forms to require documents proving citizenship. Currently the forms only require an applicant to make an oath affirming citizenship. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his Arizona counterparts have been active in seeking to tighten voter registration laws, including passage of laws that require applicants to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The changes sought in the lawsuit would only apply to Kansas and Arizona in their efforts to establish voter qualifications.


Union Workers Approve Contract with Goodyear

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Union workers have approved a labor contract with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company that affects about 8,000 employees at six U.S. plants, including one in Topeka. The international vice president of the United Steelworkers, Tom Conway, on Thursday said the four-year contract protects plants against closures throughout its term. The union says steelworkers in the six facilities passed the contract by a 3-to-1 margin. The United Steelworkers and Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear had reached the tentative agreement on July 27 to avoid a strike hours before a deadline. The contract applies to the company's facilities in Topeka; Akron, Ohio; Gadsden, Alabama; Buffalo, New York; Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Danville, Virginia. Goodyear Chairman and CEO Richard Kramer had indicated the deal would help the company's competitive position.


Most Students Injured in Bus Crash Released from Hospital

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Nearly all of the 22 Missouri sixth-grade girls injured in a school bus accident in Kansas are out of the hospital. The driver the bus that went off Kansas Highway 7 near Bonner Springs on Wednesday remains hospitalized Thursday at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.  The Kansas City Star reports that all but three of the 22 Pembroke Hill students hospitalized after the crash were released from four hospitals. Conditions of the three were not available. The Kansas Highway Patrol's preliminary report says when the bus went off the road, the driver applied the brakes and tried to steer back onto the highway, but the back of the bus slid sideways down an embankment and overturned. The students were on the way to an overnight camp when the crash occurred.


Nickerson, Sterling Co-Ops Considering Merger

NICKERSON, Kan. (AP) — Members of co-ops in Nickerson and Sterling will vote next month on whether to merge. The merger of the Nickerson's Farmers Co-op and Farmers Co-op Union of Sterling requires a two-thirds vote of approval by both cooperatives. If approved, the new cooperative would be called Central Prairie Co-op. The Hutchinson News reports that Nickerson members will vote September 9 and Sterling members will vote September 10. Nickerson's board president, Orville Miller, says both co-ops are healthy but they need to be bigger to compete and serve larger farm operations. He says the merger also would provide both co-ops with more purchasing power. Nickerson has four elevators with a 2.3 million bushel capacity and an agronomy center. Sterling has 11 locations with 8.5 million capacity and two agronomy centers.

Costa Rican Man Who Killed KS Teen Gets New Trial

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Costa Rican authorities say a security guard who fatally shot a Kansas teenager after mistaking him for an intruder will get a new trial after winning an appeal. Jorge Guevara was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison for killing 16-year-old Justin Johnston of McLouth inside a hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos. Court spokeswoman Marcela Fernandez confirmed Wednesday that Jorge Guevara won an appeal which argued the original trial didn't prove the guard intended to kill the teenager. Johnston and a group of his friends were returning to his room before dawn through a desolate area when Guevara spotted them and thinking they were thieves opened fire. Johnston was on a trip to Costa Rica with a dozen other students in the school's Spanish club.

Odor Keeps Visitors Away from Anthony City Lake

ANTHONY, Kan. (AP) — There's good news and bad news for the Anthony City Lake. The good news — after two years of drought, recent rains have filled the lake again. The bad news — the lake smells. And weeds that grew while the lake was dry are raising concerns about safety for swimmers and boat propellers. KWCH-TV reports that the city is asking people not to have any contact with the lake water until the tests determine what is causing the foul odor. City administrator Amber Kummer says the smell could be caused by decaying vegetation, or by bacteria.

Report: Most Kansas Farms Have Access to Computers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says that 71 percent of Kansas farms now have access to computers. Wednesday's report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that Kansas slightly exceeds the nationwide average of 70 percent. The report also says that 68 percent of farms in Kansas have Internet access. That number is up 6 percent from the last time the data were collected in 2011. Nationally, 67 percent of U.S. farms have Internet access, up from 62 percent in 2011. The most common method of accessing the Internet on the nation's farms is DSL, used by 35 percent, followed by 24 percent with wireless access. Those methods are trailed by cable and satellite access, with about 5 percent of farms still using dial-up.

Former Jail Deputy to Stand Trial in Inmate Sex Abuse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Sedgwick County Jail deputy will stand trial on charges that he sexually abused two jail inmates. Prosecutors allege that 23-year-old David Kendall abused two inmates last year and sexually propositioned four other inmates. A judge on Wednesday ordered Kendall bound over for trial on 13 charges ranging from aggravated sodomy to misdemeanor sexual battery. Some testimony during the three-day preliminary hearing suggested one of the inmates who alleged he was raped had consensual sex with Kendall and then made up the allegations. Defense lawyers argued the other five victims also concocted their claims of sexual abuse. The inmates have filed claims for a total of $20 million against Sedgwick County.

Former Topeka Vicar Pleads in Child Sex Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former vicar at a Topeka church will be sentenced Sept. 27 after pleading no contest to sexually assaulting a boy who attended the church. Thirty-two-year-old Hugh Denton Cranford was taken into custody Tuesday after entering the plea to one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He had been scheduled to go to trial September 23 on three counts involving boys ages 7 and 9. At the time of the crimes, Cranford was vicar at Faith Lutheran Church. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the boys and their parents attended the church, and Cranford and the boys' father were friends. Cranford, a student at the Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, was suspended by the seminary in June 2012.


Former UCLA QB Millweard Transferring to KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Former UCLA quarterback T.J. Millweard is transferring to the University of Kansas. Millweard was recently granted a release from his scholarship by the Bruins and took an unofficial visit this week to KU. He committed to the Jayhawks on Thursday, and tweeted that he was "honored and thankful to be part of the Jayhawk family." Millweard was the number-23 ranked pro-style quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class, according to He chose UCLA over offers from Arkansas and Arizona and redshirted as a freshman. He'll have to redshirt again and have three years of eligibility remaining. Millweard, who spent part of his childhood in the Kansas City area, is the third high-profile QB to transfer to KU under coach Charlie Weis. Ex-Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist started last season, and BYU transfer Jake Heaps is expected to start this season.


K-State Stadium Expansion Finishes Ahead of Football Season Opener

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Whirlwind work on a $75 million renovation to Bill Snyder Family Stadium that began following last season has been completed ahead of Kansas State University's season opener on August 30. Project supervisor AECOM announced Thursday that the project to renovate the west side of the 45-year-old stadium finished on schedule. The construction had to be finished in just eight months in order to be ready for the Wildcats' opener against North Dakota State. The renovation resulted in new premium seating, improved media and broadcast facilities, the addition of the K-State Athletics Hall of Honor and other amenities. It also doubled the amount of field lighting to meet NCAA national standards for high-definition TV broadcasts. The project was funded entirely through private donations.


Man Wanted in Baby's Drowning Arrested in SW Missouri

CARTHAGE, Mo. (AP) — A St. Joseph man wanted on an involuntary manslaughter charge involving the accidental drowning of his 8-month-old son has been taken into custody in southwest Missouri. The Carthage Press reports 24-year-old Shawn Winkfield-Maynard was arrested late Wednesday at a home in Carthage. He is accused of leaving his infant son, Kion Winkfield-Maynard, in a bathtub unattended August 2, resulting in the baby's death. Winkfield-Maynard was charged August 12 in Buchanan County with first-degree involuntary manslaughter. Buchanan County prosecutor Dwight Scroggins says he was one of two adults in the house when the baby was left alone in the tub for an extended period. He was being held Thursday in Jasper County jail awaiting extradition to Buchanan County. It was not immediately clear whether Winkfield-Maynard had obtained an attorney.


Judge Backs Funeral Protest Law in Eastern Missouri County

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal judge has ruled in favor of St. Charles County's limits on protests outside funerals. The law is aimed at keeping away protesters such as those from Westboro Baptist Church, the Topeka-based church that often protests at funerals for members of the military. U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig on Tuesday sided with St. Charles County, near St. Louis. The law prohibits protests within an hour and within 300 feet of a funeral or burial service. Plaintiffs from Westboro Baptist had claimed that enforcement of the ordinance violated their First Amendment rights and Missouri's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They filed the suit soon after the law was passed in December 2010.


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