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Regional Headlines for Thursday, January 3, 2013


Kansas Board of Education to Hear Standards Updates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The State Board of Education will hear updates next week on progress in writing new standards for teaching history, government and social studies in Kansas. The board's agenda for its January 9 meeting also includes a status report on a national project to draft new science standards. The guidelines are similar to the Common Core standards that were adopted by states for reading and math. Four new members who won election to the 10-member board in November will be sworn in. The board will also reorganize in preparation for the next two years; members need to select a chairman, to replace the retiring David Dennis of Wichita.


Lawrence Police Officer Dies in Off-Duty Crash

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas police department says one of its officers has died in a one-car crash. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 29-year-old Officer Matthew Klock was off-duty when his car hit a traffic signal pole around 2 am Wednesday. The crash happened near an intersection in the western part of Lawrence. Klock was alone in the car. The Kansas Highway Patrol's report on the accident says he was not wearing a seat belt. Klock had been a member of the Lawrence Police Department since 2007.


Former Kansas House Candidate Charged in Reno County

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson man who came within eight votes of winning a primary election for the Kansas House of Representatives has been charged with domestic battery. Erich Bishop is in the Reno County jail on charges that include battery against a Hutchinson police officer. Bishop pleaded not guilty during a court appearance last week. A pre-trial hearing is set for January 16. The 28-year-old Bishop nearly unseated Democratic Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, in the August primary. She won re-election in November. The Hutchinson News reported Wednesday that police responded to a domestic violence call involving a man and a 48-year-old female victim on December 24. Bishop allegedly kicked a police officer while being arrested. The officer was not seriously hurt. Bishop is being held on $1,100 bond.


EPA Gives Kansas Regulatory Pass on 2011 Fires

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal environmental regulators have given Kansas a little more breathing room to comply with air quality regulations. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency granted its request to exclude four days from April 2011 when calculating air quality data that is averaged over three years. In a rare move, the EPA agreed with state regulators that prescribed burnings in the Flint Hills and drifting smoke from wildfires in Texas and Mexico on those four days skewed the data. The decision is important — particularly to Wichita and its surrounding counties — because the EPA could impose more stringent local regulations for non-compliance. That affects such things as the type of gasoline sold to pollution control equipment Kansas industries would have to install.


Topeka Thief Grabs $32K Worth of Earrings

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man who gained the trust of clerks at a Topeka jewelry store by posing for weeks as a shopper turned out to be a thief. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the owners of Calhoun's Jewelers posted a $1,500 reward on Thursday, one day after the suspect bolted from the store with $32,000 worth of earrings. One pair alone was valued at $12,000. Co-owner Curt Calhoun says the man began visiting the store before the holidays and even came in on New Year's Day. On Wednesday, Calhoun says, a clerk was showing the man several sets of earrings when the suspect scooped them up and ran out. The incident was caught on surveillance video. Authorities hope someone will recognize the man and come forward.


Man Sentenced to 11 Years in Saline County Meth Case

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Saline County man is the fourth person sentenced to prison for participating in a methamphetamine distribution ring. Thirty-three-year-old Shane Curtis Sheets of New Cambria was sentenced Wednesday to more than 11 years in federal prison for methamphetamine trafficking. Sheets pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The Wichita Eagle reports investigators discovered that another co-defendant, Kevin Dale Ashcraft, regularly gave a quarter pound of methamphetamine to Sheets, who sold it to other dealers and users. Ashcraft and two other defendants are already in prison, with sentences ranging from 54 months to 240 months.

Mother and Son to Be Tried Same Day in Topeka Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Trials for a mother and son charged in the death of the man's wife will start on the same day in different Topeka courtrooms. Thirty-two-year-old Manuel Campos Alcala of Topeka was bound over Wednesday on first-degree murder and other charges tied to the October 18 shooting death of his wife, 34-year-old Ashley Alcala, at her Topeka home. His trial was scheduled to start March 25. That's the same day his mother, Manuela Alcala, of El Paso, Texas, is scheduled for trial on the same charges. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports prosecutors said they would shuttle witnesses from one courtroom to another. Two 19-year-old men from El Paso — including another of Manuela Alcala's sons — are also charged with first-degree murder in her death.


Attorney: Kansas Law on Sperm Donors Outdated

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney who's trying to prevent a Kansas sperm donor from having to pay child support for a girl who was ultimately conceived says a state law dealing with artificial insemination is outdated. Lawyer Ben Swinnen of Topeka noted Thursday that a national group proposed in 2002 that states adopt laws saying no sperm or egg donor is legally the parent of a child conceived through artificial reproduction. Kansas law says a sperm donor is not considered a child's parent if a doctor is involved in the artificial insemination. Swinnen represents 46-year-old Topeka resident William Marotta, who donated sperm to a lesbian couple in 2009. No physician was involved, and the state filed a lawsuit in October to try to force Marotta to pay child support.

Kansas State Fair Fixture "Bardo the Clown" Dies

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Bardo the Clown, a longtime performer at the Kansas State Fair, has died. State Fair General Manager Denny Stoecklein says Bardo, also known as J.B. Holdren, was found dead in his trailer on the fairgrounds Tuesday evening. He was 93 years old. The Hutchinson News reports that Holdren was a sign painter, clown and artist at the fair for 67 years. For years, Holdren drove his camper to Arizona after the fair and did sign work at the Pima County Fairgrounds. But he had lived and worked year-round at the Kansas fair for the last decade. Stoecklein said fair officials would try to preserve Holdren's signs and will plan other ways to commemorate his life. Funeral plans are still pending.


5 Governors Speak Out on Lesser Prairie Chicken Classification 

DENVER (AP) — Governors of five states that are home to the lesser prairie chicken say they're disappointed the federal government has proposed listing the bird as threatened. However they said they're encouraged that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service isn't proposing listing the lesser prairie chicken as endangered. A final decision on a listing is expected this fall. Some ranchers, wind farms and others have worried that listing the bird as threatened could hurt their operations by leading to more regulations on the bird's habitat. The governors of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas released a statement Thursday saying that conservation efforts by their states, along with commitments from industry leaders and landowners, to address risks to the bird should support a decision not to list the species as threatened.


Kansas Commodity Event to Feature Farm Policy, Markets

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The fate of the Farm Bill after its one-year extension by Congress will be examined this month at a gathering of the major farm commodity groups in Kansas. The annual Kansas Commodity Classic takes place January 16 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan. The event brings together the state's corn, wheat and grain sorghum industry groups. Sessions include an overview of trends in grain markets and a discussion of the weather outlook. A panel of academic and industry leaders is also expected to discuss research and technology advances in the major Kansas grain crops. Kansas State University professor emeritus Barry Flinchbaugh will talk about congressional activities. Tours of the university's Grain Science and Industry Complex will also be offered.


Holiday Storms Have Little Effect on US Drought Conditions

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Holiday storms that pounded much of the nation with snow and rain did little to ease the overall grip of the worst U.S. drought in decades. The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows that about 61 percent of the continental U.S. remained in some form of drought as of Tuesday, down less than a percentage point from the previous week. That number has been above 60 percent largely since July. More than 21 percent of the lower 48 states are in extreme or exceptional drought, the two worst categories. That's down slightly from the previous week. All of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota are classified as being in drought. But some areas in the Southeast are emerging from drought after heavy rains since Christmas Day.


Nebraska Restricts Republican River Water Usage in 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska is imposing limits on the use of the Republican River this year to make sure enough water flows downstream to Kansas to satisfy a three-state agreement. The ongoing drought forced the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources to issue an order this week requiring additional conservation measures in the river basin. Several conservation measures have been put in place since Nebraska last used more of the Republican River's water than it's entitled to, but the Upper and Lower Republican River Natural Resource Districts will have to take additional steps to comply this year. The dispute over the Republican River's water has led to two lawsuits between Kansas and Nebraska, including one that's pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Water Releases into Missouri River Will Be Decreased

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The amount of water released into the lower Missouri River will be decreased this month because warmer weather has reduced ice concerns. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday it will gradually reduce the amount of water it releases out of Gavins Point dam on the South Dakota-Nebraska border to 14,000 cubic feet per second. That's a decrease of 4,000 cubic feet per second from the releases being made over the past two weeks. The change is not expected to make much difference in water levels downstream in the Missouri or Mississippi rivers. Officials said last month that the water flow needed to be increased because ice forming on the river would reduce the flow. Now the weather has improved enough to alleviate the ice concerns.

KU Hospital Reaches Organ Transplant Milestone

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Hospital has transplanted its 1,000th liver — followed soon after by the 1,001st transplant. The hospital announced Wednesday the recipient of the 1,000th transplant was 60-year-old Brenda Higgins of Kansas City. Thirty-nine-year-old Deborah Ellerbusch of Newton received the 1,001st liver. The hospital's liver transplant program started in 1990. Hospital officials say the program is among the 25 largest in the nation.

Legislation Creates KC-Based World War I Group

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial will be home to a new national commission under legislation approved by Congress. The 12-member World War I Centennial Commission will be responsible for planning, developing and executing national projects and activities marking the war's outbreak in 1914. Liberty Memorial is a 217-foot tower located atop the National World War I Museum. A resolution passed last month by the U.S. House would have made it the nation's official World War I monument. But a compromise measure approved Sunday night in the Senate and Monday in the House does not address that issue. Missouri Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill both supported the legislation. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, of Kansas City, co-sponsored the measure in the U.S. House.

Kansas Professors Make Case for Long-Ago Solar Event

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas professors are making the case that a major solar burst may have happened more than 1,200 years ago. Brian Thomas of Washburn University and Adrian Melott of the University of Kansas became interested after reading that tree samples from the years 774 and 775 AD showed a spike in the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere. The Japanese scientists who made the discovery ruled out a major solar event based on their calculations. Thomas and Melott noticed that those calculations assumed the solar event would emit energy evenly. But Thomas is an associate professor of physics and astronomy, and he says that's not how the complicated energy bursts at the sun's surface actually work. Thomas and Melott's response appeared in the online edition of the journal Nature.


Source: Reid, Chiefs Nearing Deal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that Andy Reid is nearing a deal to replace Romeo Crennel as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Reid has no plans to interview for other jobs, according to the person...who is not authorized to discuss the negotiations, and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Thursday. The Philadelphia Eagles fired Reid on Monday, the same day the Chiefs parted ways with Crennel. Several members of the Chiefs met with Reid, who has also been linked to openings in Arizona and San Diego, for close to nine hours on Wednesday. Reid was fired after 14 seasons, six division titles and a Super Bowl appearance.


Wichita Man Wins $1 Million Kansas Lottery Prize

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who won a $1 million Kansas Lottery jackpot had to borrow a car to drive to Topeka to claim the prize because he doesn't own a vehicle. The man, who is in his 40s, won the lottery's Holiday Millionaire Raffle by matching the winning number of 120833. He, his wife and three children claimed the prize Wednesday afternoon. He declined to allow his name to be released.


Toddler Ejected, Fatally Injured in Maize Crash

MAIZE, Kan. (AP) — A 3-year-old boy has died and his 9-month-old sister is hospitalized with serious injuries following a two-vehicle collision in south-central Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports the crash between an oil tanker truck and a minivan driven by the children's mother happened around 12:30 pm Thursday in Maize. Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says both children apparently were riding in car seats. The little boy was still in his car seat when he was thrown from the minivan. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. The sheriff says investigators believe the minivan ran a red light and was hit by the tanker truck, which was carrying very little oil. The minivan was pushed into a utility pole, and the truck tipped onto its side. The children's mother was also injured.

Man Gets 35 Years in 2006 Death of KC Bank Security Guard

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis man was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison for his role in the death of a security guard during a bank robbery in Kansas City in 2006. Prosecutors announced Thursday that 25-year-old Thirplus Moose was sentenced for his role in the death of 70-year-old Dwight Mayhugh Sr. Moose pleaded guilty last November to participating in two bank robberies at a United Missouri Bank branch in Kansas City in February 2006. Mayhugh was shot during the second robbery attempt and died the next day at a hospital. Iralee E. French Jr. of Kansas City was sentenced to 87 years in federal prison without parole in the same case.


Prostitution Case Dropped Against Missouri Principal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former northwest Missouri high school principal will not be prosecuted on charges of patronizing prostitution. The Kansas City prosecutor's office says it is dismissing the case against Pat Martin, former principal at Platte County High School. KSHB-TV reported Wednesday that the prosecutor's office would not say why the case was dismissed. Martin was given a misdemeanor citation after he was arrested on September 26. Police alleged Martin agreed to pay a woman he met at a hotel for sex acts. The woman was a Kansas City police detective. The meeting was arranged through an Internet ad soliciting a date. Martin resigned from the high school on October 1.

Homeland Security Signs Land Transfer for Kansas Biosecurity Lab

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Department of Homeland Security officials have signed a land transfer agreement that will allow for the construction of a new federal animal research lab near Kansas State University in Manhattan. DHS will acquire about 46 acres of land near the north end of Kansas State for the lab. The transfer clears the way for construction to begin. Governor Sam Brownback and members of the state's congressional delegation announced Wednesday that the move indicated the federal department is committed to building the $1.14 billion National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility. Kansas was selected for the new animal research lab after a lengthy competition in 2009. The lab would replace an aging facility at Plum Island, New York, where research would be conducted on deadly animal pathogens, including foot and mouth disease.

2nd Sedgwick County Detention Deputy Charged

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A second Sedgwick County detention deputy has been charged with sexual misconduct involving inmates. The Wichita Eagle reports Sheriff Jeff Easter announced Wednesday that two male inmates complained in October of being subject to "lewd fondling" at a work-release center. Two counts of unlawful sexual relations were filed in November but didn't become public until Friday when James Conklin of Wichita made a first court appearance. Conklin's lawyer, Sal Intagliata, says Conklin has 19 years of "honorable service" as a detention deputy. The attorney also says he intends to challenge the credibility of the accusers. Conklin is free on bond awaiting a January 10 preliminary hearing. A former Sedgwick County jailer, David Kendall, is charged with sex crimes involving six inmates. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 23.

KS Homeowner Shoots Suspect During Home Invasion

NEOSHO RAPIDS, Kan. (AP) — Lyon County authorities say a homeowner shot and injured one person breaking into his home and held another suspect at gunpoint until officers arrived. Sheriff Jeff Cope says the apparent burglary attempt occurred early Wednesday at the home of Ronald Sleisher about three miles north of Neosho Rapids. Cope says Sleisher heard a pounding on his door and a window breaking and fired at the intruders. KVOE reports that one suspect, a 35-year-old man from Council Grove, was taken to a Topeka hospital, where his condition was not available. A 30-year-old man from Dunlap was arrested. Sleisher and another person in the home were not hurt. Cope says there is no indication Sleisher or the other person in the house knew the suspects.

18 Pounds of Marijuana Found After I-70 Chase

ALMA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Highway Patrol troopers say they found 18 pounds of marijuana in a car after a dangerous chase along Interstate 70 in northeast Kansas. A 20-year-old man from Antioch, Tennessee was arrested Tuesday after a chase that mostly went east in the westbound lanes of the interstate in Wabaunsee County. Troopers say at one point the driver reversed direction and traveled west in the eastbound lanes. No one was injured. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the chase started when a trooper pulled the driver over for speeding and smelled marijuana. The man sped off and at times drove up to 130 mph. The car eventually went into a ditch near the exit for Maple Hill and St. Marys. The driver is in the Wabaunsee County Jail on $200,000 bond.


Low Water Disrupts a Kansas Tradition

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A float trip on the Arkansas River isn't much fun when your kayak scrapes the riverbed. A group called the Arkansas River Coalition has made a tradition of paddling the river in Wichita each New Year's Day. But months of drought created special challenges Tuesday. The Wichita Eagle reports this year's trip had been scheduled for the nearby Little Arkansas, where the water is deep enough for kayaks and canoes. But the Little Arkansas was frozen over, so the paddlers launched in the main Arkansas River instead — only to hit sandbars or get stuck in mud. Several had to drag their boats over the mud to a channel deep enough to float. The Arkansas dried up completely in parts of Kansas over the summer.

KU Women Beat Kansas State, 72-63

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Angel Goodrich scored 17 points to lead the number 21-ranked University of Kansas women's basketball team over Kansas State 72-63 Wednesday night in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams. Haley Texada led Kansas State (9-4) with 21 points. Goodrich, leading five Jayhawks (10-2) in double figures, had nine assists. Senior Monica Engelman, who scored 10 points, became the 25th player in Kansas history to score 1,000 points in a career. Natalie Knight had 16 points, Carolyn Davis had 14, and CeCe Harper added 10. Chelsea Gardner had seven rebounds. Kansas State led 36-34 at halftime, but made only 23 of 63 (36.5 percent) from the field for the game. KU made 28 of 54 (51.9 percent). Texada, who was 6 of 12 from the field, led three Wildcats in double figures. Brittany Chambers had 15 points, and Chantay Caron had 11. Mariah White had six points, seven rebounds and six assists before fouling out.

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