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Regional Headlines for Thursday, January 30, 2014


KS: Feds to Allow Final Portion of State's Medicaid Overhaul

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say they'll move ahead with the last part of an overhaul of the state's Medicaid program after receiving permission from the federal government. Governor Sam Brownback announced Thursday that in-home services for 8,500 developmentally disabled Kansans will become part of the overhauled program, known as KanCare. The changes will take effect Saturday. The $3 billion-a-year Medicaid program provides medical coverage for about 345,000 poor and disabled Kansans. Last year, the state turned administration of most of the program over to three private health insurance companies. Advocates for the developmentally disabled have been vocal critics of the overhaul, and their concerns led the state to delay including their services in the overhaul until this year. The plan had been do that in January, but federal officials delayed it.


KS Lawmakers Consider Bill to Expand Gun Rights

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Influential gun-rights groups are pushing proposals to strip cities and counties of any power to regulate guns and limit local programs to buy guns back from their owners. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee had a hearing Thursday on the measure. It has the support of both the National Rifle Association and the Kansas State Rifle Association. The bill would prohibit cities and counties from limiting the open carrying of firearms and bar them from spending tax dollars to administer firearms buyback programs. Besides stripping cities and counties of the power to set gun policies, the bill declares existing ordinances void. The proposal follows enactment of a state law last year declaring that the federal government has no power to regulate guns manufactured, sold and kept only in Kansas.


Kansas Insurance Chief Opposes Gov's Re-Election

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger is opposing fellow Republican Sam Brownback's re-election as governor and has joined a new bipartisan group hoping to thwart Brownback's bid for a second term. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Praeger went public Wednesday about her break with Brownback and other Kansas Republicans. She's appearing in an online video criticizing the governor from the Reroute the Roadmap group. It takes its name from the Roadmap for Kansas platform that Brownback spelled out in his 2010 campaign. The group's six sponsors include Wichita businesswoman Jill Docking. She's the lieutenant-governor running mate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis. Kansas GOP Executive Director Clay Barker noted that Praeger has broken with fellow Republicans previously in supporting the federal health care overhaul.

Lawrence Homicide Suspect Expected to Return to Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old woman charged with killing a Lawrence businessman is expected to return to Kansas from Florida, where she was arrested over the weekend. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Sarah Brooke Gonzales McLinn waived an extradition hearing Wednesday in federal court in Miami. 6NewsLawrence reports she was being placed in Florida state custody awaiting a state court hearing. McLinn is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 52-year-old Harold Sasko, who owned pizza restaurants in Lawrence and Topeka. McLinn was an employee, and Sasko's relatives have said he let her move into his home while she was having personal problems. McLinn was reported missing around the time Sasko was found dead January 17th. Douglas County authorities allege Sasko was killed with an "edged instrument" after being subdued.


Democrat Forming Committee to Explore KS A-G Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former lawyer for three Kansas agencies is forming a committee to explore a possible Democratic run for attorney general. A.J. Kotich of Topeka is the first Democrat to announce interest in challenging Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt in November. Schmidt faces no Republican opposition so far in his bid for a second four-year term. Kotich said Thursday he has filed paperwork with state election officials to appoint a campaign treasurer. Kotich currently has a private legal practice. He worked as a special assistant attorney general under three previous attorneys general, starting with Republican Bob Stephan, and has been general counsel for three state agencies.


Geary County School Superintendent Walker Retiring

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — The superintendent of the northeast Kansas school district that serves children from the Army's Fort Riley plans to retire. Geary County superintendent Ron Walker told administrators and staff on Wednesday he will retire at the end of the current academic year. Walker has led Unified School District 475 for 10 years. Enrollment in the Junction City-based district has risen during the past decade as the 1st Infantry Division returned to Fort Riley from Germany. Walker's retirement must be accepted by the school board, which will consider the matter at its February 3 meeting.

New Charges Filed in Wichita Drive-Thru Theft

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have filed new charges against three Wichita men accused of stealing the wedding ring off a dying woman's hand at a fast-food restaurant drive-thru. Daquantrius Johnson, Quanique Thomas-Hameen and Keith Hickles Jr. initially were charged with robbery after the December 29 incident at a Wichita Taco Bell. The Wichita Eagle reports that prosecutors on Wednesday added theft and aggravated burglary charges against the 19-year-olds. Theft is a misdemeanor, while robbery and aggravated burglary are felonies. Police say 43-year-old Danielle Zimmerman had driven to get dinner for family when she suffered a brain aneurysm and crashed her pickup truck into the speaker box of the drive-thru lane. Thieves stole her ring and her purse while she lay unconscious. She died the next day. The ring still hasn't been found.


KS Jury Convicts Man of Stealing Brother's Identity

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal jury has convicted a Canadian man of using his dead infant brother's identity to build a new life in the U.S. The jury deliberated slightly more than an hour Thursday before returning guilty verdicts on all seven counts against 58-year-old Leslie Camick. The former Winfield, Kansas resident was charged with aggravated identity theft, obstructing justice and fraud. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson called Camick an impostor who deceived the United States by stealing his infant brother's identity to flee Canada in 2000. The brother, Wayne Camick, died in 1957. Defense attorney John Henderson told jurors a person's identity is who he or she is in relation to others. Henderson said the relationship is not defined by the name on a birth certificate. Sentencing was set for April 21.


Reward Offered in Poisoning of Northwest KS Dogs

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — The strychnine poisonings of three dogs in northwest Kansas has prompted the Humane Society of the United States to offer a $5,000 reward for information in the deaths. The Hays Daily News reports that two Labrador retrievers and a Chihuahua were found dead on December 18 in a neighborhood west of Hays. All three dogs were outdoors when they ingested the poison. Ellis County Sheriff Ed Harbin says it's still unknown if the poisonings were accidental or deliberate. But Harbin wants to make sure the source of the strychnine is found to make sure no other animals or people are harmed. The Humane Society's reward is for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever was responsible.


KS Inmate Charged with Trying to Kill Prosecutor

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man already serving a life sentence for sodomizing an infant faces a new trial for a courtroom attack on a prosecutor. The Hutchinson News reports that 27-year-old Michael Sherman was bound over for trial on a charge of attempted premeditated murder following a hearing Wednesday. The attack on Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder happened last July 10 just after a judge reaffirmed Sherman's life sentence. Schroeder and others in the courtroom said Sherman jumped from his seat, put Schroeder in a headlock and tried to choke him with the chain of his shackles. Sherman's lawyer argued Wednesday there was no evidence of premeditation or that Sherman was trying to kill Schroeder. The judge disagreed and set Sherman's arraignment for March 3.


Investigation into KC Woman's Death Nearly Complete

GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) — Goodland police say an investigation into the death of a Kansas City, Missouri woman while she was jailed in western Kansas is nearly finished. Police Chief Clifton Couch said Wednesday he expects to turn over investigative reports on the death of 58-year-old Brenda Sewell to the Sherman County Attorney later this week. The Salina Journal reports that the county attorney will determine if any charges are warranted in the case. Sewell died at a Goodland hospital on January 22, two days after she was jailed in Sherman County. Her family alleges she became ill while in jail and county jailers did not try to help her when she collapsed in the jail cell. They say jailers also had refused to give Sewell medication she carried for several illnesses.


Man Competent for Trial in Rural Leavenworth Case

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A rural Leavenworth man will stand trial for second-degree murder in the shooting death of another man at his home. Forty-eight-year-old Jeffery Sifford on Wednesday was found competent to stand trial for the death of 58-year-old Richard E. Luse, of rural Easton. Luse was shot last December in a travel trailer at Sifford's home. He died later at a hospital. The Leavenworth Times reports that a preliminary hearing was scheduled for March 7. Sifford remains jailed in Leavenworth County on $250,000 bail.


Feds Seek Prison Term for Gun Toting Ex-Doctor

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors want a former Kansas doctor convicted of illegally possessing drugs and a gun to be sent back to prison for 10 years. In a filing Wednesday, the government requested the maximum allowable sentence for former Goddard physician Lawrence M. Simons. Simons was convicted last year of being a felon in possession of a firearm for giving a bail bondsman a pistol as partial payment in an unrelated domestic dispute. He was also convicted of unlawfully possessing controlled substances. Prosecutors also want to tack on another 10 months for violating conditions of his release on a 2009 conviction for unlawfully distributing controlled substances. The government cited incidents it contends show a person willing to intimidate and resort to violence to get what he wants. Sentencing is February 10.


KS Study Links Exercise, Educational Success

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new study of Kansas elementary and middle school students makes a link between physical fitness and better performance on math and reading exams. The research was conducted through schools participating in the Kansas Fitness Information Tracking. The study followed the fitness of 13,000 students in the 2011-12 school year. It is part of the Healthy Schools Project funded by the Kansas Health Foundation. The results released Thursday found that students who met one or none of the fitness standards scored 50.4 percent and 41.8 percent above the proficiency standards for math and reading. For students who met the mark for all five fitness tests, scores jumped to 73.5 percent above the standard for reading and 70.3 percent above for math.


Garmin Executive Gives $1 Million to KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The co-founder of Garmin International is donating $1 million to the University of Kansas School of Engineering. The university announced Thursday that the gift from Min Kao's family foundation will be used for scholarships and programs at the engineering school. Half of the money will fund the Min H. Kao Engineering Design Studio. The university says the other half of the gift will establish the Garmin Excellence Scholarship in the school's electrical engineering and computer science department. And Garmin plans to start a mentorship program between the Olathe-based company and the engineering school. Kao donated more than $500,000 in scholarships in the past. 


Ex-Kansas City Clerk Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The former city clerk of a tiny southeast Kansas community has pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $60,000 from the town and her church. The U.S. Attorney's office says 67-year-old Diana Cox, of Havana, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count each of bank fraud and wire fraud. Cox admitted stealing about $14,700 from the town of Havana, which has a population of just over 100. She also admitted stealing nearly $45,000 from Cross Point Baptist Church in Caney, where she served as treasurer. Cox is scheduled to be sentenced April 16. She faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for bank fraud and up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud.

KC Considers Closing Archaic Detention Center

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City officials are considering closing a detention center that has not seen many improvements since it was built in 1939. The city is working with Jackson County (Missouri) officials to move the detention unit to an expanded county correctional center in Kansas City. That facility was built in 1984 and has the space for the city's needs. The Kansas City Star reports that the current detention center includes old metal bunks, steel toilets between those bunks and grimy concrete floors. It houses people arrested on a city ordinance violation or warrant, or those arrested on a 24-hour state investigation hold for more serious crimes. A multi-million dollar renovation is underway at the city's police headquarters but no work will be done on the detention center.


Aircraft Maintenance Firm Plans MO Facility

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ An aircraft maintenance company plans to open a facility in Kansas City that could eventually employ 500 people. Aviation Technical Services plans to begin renovations in February on a building at Kansas City International Airport. It's expected to be ready to open in April. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said Thursday the Kansas City facility will be Aviation Technical Service's first outside the state of Washington, where it was founded in 1970 in the city of Everett. Nixon said the company could employ more than 500 people over the next three to five years. The Missouri Department of Economic Development said the company could receive up to $9.6 million of state incentives if it meets job creation and capital investment criteria. Aviation Technical Services currently has more than 1,000 workers.


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