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Regional Headlines for Thursday, January 2, 2014


KS Statehouse Renovation Nears Completion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — After 13 years of renovations, the Kansas Statehouse is ready to welcome new generations of visitors to the seat of state government.  The project's final phase included an auditorium, a classroom, thousands of square feet of exhibition space and a visitors' center, complete with an oversized map of Kansas.  A ribbon cutting will take place today (THUR) to open the new space.  A formal ceremony to mark completion of the $330 million renovation project is scheduled for Kansas day, January 29. The Statehouse was built over 37 years beginning in 1866.  Visitors will enter the building from the north at the ground level and proceed through the visitor center and into limestone corridors that are the foundation.


Man Shot to Death in Pottawatomie County

ST. MARYS, Kan. (AP) — One man is in custody after an apparent homicide in the small Pottawatomie County town of St. Marys.  The county sheriff says a 24-year-old Rossville man was found shot to death inside a car yesterday (WED) morning after the car pulled up to the police station and passengers flagged down officers.  A 21-year-old St. Marys man who was also in the car was taken into custody. The victim's name has not been released.


KS Girl Who Was Shocked in Rain Dies in Nebraska

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 12-year-old girl Salina who was shocked in May while dancing in the rain in downtown Salina has died in a Nebraska hospital.  The Salina Journal reports Jayden Hicks was 11 on May 29 when she was playing with friends during a thunderstorm in Campbell Plaza. She was shocked when she came into contact with the metal covers of in-ground electrical junction boxes in front of the plaza. She died Tuesday morning in Lincoln, Nebraska, of respiratory failure.  Her father, Jaymie Hicks, posted a Facebook message saying Jayden died at 3:56am.  Her aunt, Kim Queen of Inman, told KWCH-TV Jayden's death was heartbreaking, but that she wasn't suffering anymore.  In September old wiring was removed from the city-owned electrical system in the area where Jayden was shocked.


Body of Duck Hunter Recovered from KS Lake

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — The body of a Fort Riley soldier who disappeared while duck hunting on Christmas Eve has been recovered from a Kansas lake.  The Geary County Sheriff's office says 31-year-old Spc. Thomas Hedrick's body was retrieved yesterday (WED) from Milford Lake. The Illinois native  was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Combat Aviation Brigade.  The sheriff's office says Hedrick became stranded on ice on the lake while trying to retrieve a duck he shot. He called for help when his makeshift boat began to sink but fell through the ice before help arrived. The search efforts were suspended twice because of weather conditions but resumed on Monday when conditions improved.


Husband 'Appalled' Someone Stole Dying Wife's Ring

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man whose wife died from a brain aneurysm this week says he is appalled that someone removed her wedding ring from her finger and stole other items while she sat unconscious in her vehicle in a Taco Bell drive-thru.  The Wichita Eagle  reports Danielle Zimmerman went to pick up dinner Sunday night when her pickup truck struck the speaker box and came to a stop in the drive-thru. Her husband, Kris Zimmerman, says he heard there were nine people gathered around his wife after the vehicle stopped.  Police recovered Danielle Zimmerman's purse after children found it while sledding. The thief is believed to have taken $150 in cash, some of her credit cards and her iPhone.  Kris Zimmerman asks that anyone who saw the theft come forward.


Stash of Stolen Auto Parts found in Great Bend

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in central Kansas are sorting through at least $10,000 worth of stolen auto parts and equipment found at a property in Great Bend.  The Hutchinson News reports  Barton County Sheriff's Office discovered the stockpile Monday while executing a search warrant.  Sheriff Brian Bellendir says the goods were stolen from Russell, Reno, Rush, Lincoln and Saline counties as well as Barton County. Officers from some of the other counties are helping with the investigation.  Among the stolen items are tires, wheels, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and engines. The sheriff says returning the goods to their owners could be difficult if the serial numbers have been removed.  No arrests had been made by Tuesday as the investigation continued.


Police Search for Vehicle Linked to Nebraska Fire

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) — Police in Kearney are looking for a vehicle involved in an explosion or a fire that left a Kansas woman with significant burns.  Kearney police say they received a report on Tuesday evening that burning items had been dumped in an alley. Around the same time, authorities learned that a woman had been burned at the same location.  Sgt. Tony Cordova tells the Kearney Hub that witnesses described a fire or explosion, and that a red 1998 Ford Taurus with Kansas license plates 206FUF left the scene.  The Kansas woman was transferred to the burn unit at St. Elizabeth's Regional Medical Center in Lincoln. She's in critical but stable condition.  Cordova says two others may have also been injured, and officers are looking for them.


St. Joseph Company Announces $12 Million Expansion

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A St. Joseph company that makes corrugated boxes has announced a $12 million local expansion project that will result in the retention of 134 employees.  St. Joseph Metro Chamber of Commerce spokesman Brad Lau says International Paper's new capital investment in equipment will increase the facility's efficiency and capacity. The St. Joseph News-Press reports there will be no new jobs created through the expansion.  International Paper's corporate office has been evaluating its Missouri facilities as part of a national efficiency and downsizing review. The chamber, city and Buchanan County provided incentives for the company to retain its St. Joseph plant.  Lau says the company intends to begin its five-year project this month.


Kansas Honor Flight Plans 6 Flights this Year

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Honor Flight is planning six more flights for veterans this year.  The Hutchinson-based nonprofit group flies veterans for free to visit memorials in Washington D.C.  The first two flights are scheduled for April 16-18 and April 30-May 2.  Mike VanCampen, president of Kansas Honor Flight, says dates for the other four flights haven't been scheduled. He says when the group flew veterans to Washington D.C. last July, the temperature was 108, so the group doesn't plan any trips in July and August this year.  The Wichita Eagle reports that most of the veterans on the first two flights are expected to be from World War II but later flights are expected to include mostly Korean War veterans.


KC Crime-Reduction Program Hopeful about 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Leaders of a program aimed at reducing crime in Kansas City are hopeful that lessons learned in 2013 will mean less violence in 2014.  The Kansas City Star reports that the Kansas City No Violence Alliance uses a "focused deterrence" crime prevention strategy that that has been successful in other cities.  The idea is that police and prosecutors focus on the small number of people responsible for the majority of violent crimes. Often, those people are affiliated with gangs or loosely organized criminal groups. They and their associates are told that violence no longer will be tolerated.  But along with that law enforcement stick comes a carrot of social services help for those seeking a chance to escape from the criminal life.



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