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Regional Headlines for Thursday, July 18, 2013



Kansas to Appeal Sex Offender Registry Ruling

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas authorities say they'll appeal a state district court's decision ordering them to remove a child molester's name from the offender registry. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Thursday he will fight for the integrity of the state's offender registry law. He says his office will also appeal a ruling that allowed the plaintiff anonymity. Schmidt says the registry is designed to protect the public, particularly children. Shawnee County Judge Larry Hendricks ruled Tuesday that Kansas law ostracizes offenders and requires them to remain registered longer than necessary. But his ruling applied only to the man who sued the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Johnson County sheriff's office over ending his registering requirement. Nearly 11,600 people are now on the state registry for crimes involving sex, drugs or violence.


Kansas House Committee Chairman Running for Insurance Post

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The longtime chairman of the Kansas House Insurance Committee is seeking the Republican nomination for insurance commissioner. Representative Clark Shultz of McPherson said Thursday he's thought about running for the office for several years. But he said he's intended to wait to run until three-term Republican incumbent Sandy Praeger planned to retire. Praeger isn't expected to seek another four-year term next year. Shultz said one of his main goals as commissioner would be attracting new insurance companies to Kansas. Shultz is the fourth declared Republican candidate, with the GOP primary set for August 2014. No Democrat has publicly announced plans to run. The 56-year-old Shultz has served in the House since 1997 and has been chairman of its Insurance Committee for nine years. He's also chairman of its rules committee.


KCK Utility Addresses June Electrocution Death

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas City, Kansas Board of Public Utilities says work on scores of downed power lines prevented it from quickly responding to a similar call in June about line at a city park, where a man was electrocuted. BPU spokesman David Mehlhaff issued a statement Wednesday explaining why it took more than 11 hours to respond to the downed power line at Rosedale Park after the June 15 storm. Twenty-seven-year-old Nicholas Moeder of Shawnee was electrocuted on June 16 as he played disc golf in the dark with a friend. The Kansas City Star reports that the BPU says it received 553 service calls that evening, including three that reported the downed wire in Rosedale Park. The utility says the storm left 2,277 customers without electrical service.


Lawrence Man Shot to Death; 2 Suspects Arrested

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police are investigating the shooting death of a 51-year-old man. The man was killed Wednesday evening at a home in Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the man lived at the home with his son. Two suspects, a man and a woman, were later arrested in Topeka. No further details were immediately available.


Group Says Farm Bill Eases Rules for Coal-Fired Power Plant Construction

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. House-approved farm bill contains a provision that environmentalists say would ease rules for building a coal-burning power plant in southwest Kansas. Environmentalists have won federal court decisions requiring an environmental review before Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corporation can build a $2.8 billion, 895-megawatt plant near Holcomb. Bill Griffith, energy chair of the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club, told The Lawrence Journal-World that a section of the House's farm bill would essentially negate that requirement. Griffith says he isn't sure how the provision was slipped into the the farm bill. Sunflower Electric spokeswoman Cindy Hertel says she had no knowledge of the provision. The House-approved farm bill moved to the Senate, which has a separate farm bill. A conference committee is expected to consider differences between the versions.


EPA Grant Will Fund Cleanups in KCMO, KCK

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri and neighboring Kansas City, Kansas are sharing a $600,000 federal grant for cleaning up polluted sites. On Thursday, Sly James, mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, and Mark Holland, mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, announced the start of the One-KC Brownfields Coalition, which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. The $600,000 grant is intended to help the two cities assess environmental contamination on so-called brownfield properties, which are contaminated industrial sites. The mayors said in a release that the two-state project aims to improve about 25 brownfield industrial properties and neighboring areas, transforming some into community gardens or new businesses. The program is expected to continue for three years.


Participation in Kansas Rural Program Grows

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — More Kansas counties are signing up to participate in a 2011 state program aimed at luring new residents to rural counties with declining populations. Grant and Gray counties in southwest Kansas have recently voted to participate in a student loan program where new graduates can receive assistance in retiring college debt. The two counties were among 23 counties added to the state's Rural Opportunity Zone program created by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. The program offers student loan repayment and an income tax credit for new residents moving to participating counties that have lost at least 10 percent of their population over the past decade. Chris Harris, director of the program in the Kansas Department of Commerce, says Kansas averages one new application for the student loan program each day.


KU Medical Center Receives $10 Million Bequest

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former dean at the University of Kansas Medical Center and her husband left a $10 million gift to the medical center and university libraries when they died last year. The university's endowment association announced the gift Thursday from the estate of Stata Norton Ringle, a former dean of the School of Allied Health at the medical center and her husband, David Ringle. The couple lived in Leawood. Stata Ringle was a faculty member and administrator at the medical center from 1962 to 1990. David was a research physiologist for the Midwest Research Institute. The university says the gift will be divided between student scholarships at the School of Health Professions, the Clendening History of Medicine Library and the Kenneth Spencer Research Library.


U.S. Senate Committee Advances NBAF Funding

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. Senate committee has endorsed spending $404 million in the next fiscal year to construct a new federal research lab at Kansas State University. The action Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee sends the spending request for the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility to the full Senate for passage. The House has already approved $404 million for the project, part of the Department of Homeland Security's budget for 2014. Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, both Republicans, announced Thursday's development on the funding. The $1.25 billion lab will research deadly animal and livestock diseases, replacing an aging facility at Plum Island, New York. The state of Kansas is matching the federal funding by authorizing $305 million in bonds, as well as $35 million from the Kansas Bioscience Authority.


Kansas Court Records Sealed in Killer's Release

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Shawnee County judge has sealed court records in the case of a man who was committed to a mental hospital after killing a woman in 2001 and has since been moved to a Topeka facility. Lee McGowan, senior assistant Shawnee County district attorney, told The Topeka Capital Journal that Judge Evelyn Wilson on Wednesday ordered court records sealed in the case of Hal Bates, who was committed to a mental hospital after beating 85-year-old Elizabeth Cowperthwaite of Topeka to death in 2001. McGowan is contesting a Pawnee County judge's order earlier this year releasing Bates to a Topeka nursing facility for mental health. McGowan says Wilson sealed the court records after an attorney representing Bates filed a motion seeking to close court proceedings regarding Bates's move to Topeka.

70 Foreign Military Officers Visit Kansas Capital

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials met with 70 foreign military officers as part of a program teaching them about the state's government and its court system. The officers' visit Thursday included a tour of the Kansas Statehouse. The officers are students at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Officers who study at the 119-year-old college frequently become high-ranking military officers or civilian officials in their nations, and 26 graduates have become heads of state. The 65 nations represented this year include Afghanistan, Brazil, Egypt, Kenya, Korea, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Uganda. Secretary of State Kris Kobach spoke to the officers before they toured the Statehouse. The officers' itinerary also included a tour of the nearby Judicial Center and the Kansas Museum of History.


KC-Based Hallmark Plans Staff Cuts in Canada

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hallmark Cards says it's eliminating about 300 positions at its distribution center and main office in Canada. The Kansas City Star reports that the cuts will start in January. About 230 positions will be cut in Hallmark's Canadian headquarters, consolidating some operations into U.S. operations. About 75 distribution center jobs in Toronto will be eliminated. Hallmark spokeswoman Julie O'Dell said Wednesday that about 1,000 Hallmark jobs will remain in Canada. The Kansas City-based greeting card company also says it's converting about 315 temporary and on-call workers from Hallmark employees in Kansas City to employees of Guidant Group, a business process outsource company. The outsourcing is effective August 26.


Marines Keeping IT Center in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Marine Corps has decided to keep its information technology center in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas City beat out New Orleans for the center's offices, and the decision announced Wednesday extends the Marines' commitment to Kansas City beyond its current lease, which expires in 2017. Senator Claire McCaskill says in a release the Marines have agreed to negotiate for a longer commitment, and the decision keeps more than 400 civilian jobs in the area. The 250,000 square-foot IT center houses hundreds of software developers and information technology professionals who support Marine Corps computer functions. The total workforce is about 450 people, most of whom are civilians.


Oklahoma Man Killed in Cattle Pen at Creekstone Farms

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Arkansas City police say an Oklahoma man died while working inside a cattle pen at Creekstone Farms. Emergency crews who responded to a call of a man hurt by a cow early Thursday found 57-year-old Richard Gates of Blackwell, Okla., unresponsive in the cattle pen. He died later at South Central Regional Medical Center. Police say Gates was inside the cattle pen trying to move cattle when he was knocked down and injured by other cattle. An autopsy will determine his cause of death.


Leavenworth Man Charged in Shooting Death

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Leavenworth man is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of another man while they were riding in a pickup truck. Twenty-six-year-old Justin M. Driscoll appeared in court Wednesday after being charged in the Saturday death of 30-year-old Dick Mathis. Police say Mathis was shot when a gun discharged and a bullet hit him in the chin. He was one of four men — including Driscoll — riding in the truck when the shooting happened. Driscoll and another man took Mathis to a hospital, where he died. The Leavenworth Times reports the criminal complaint alleges reckless behavior was a factor in the shooting. In court Wednesday, Driscoll's attorney asked for more time before a preliminary hearing is scheduled. A status hearing was scheduled for August 16.

4 SW Kansas Bank Employees Facing Federal Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Three southwest Kansas women are facing federal charges accusing them of embezzling more than $100,000 from a bank where they worked and staging a robbery to cover it up. A fourth woman is accused of embezzling money with two of the others for more than two years after the July 24, 2010, staged robbery at Western State Bank in Ulysses. A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charges Ulysses residents 32-year-old Amber Gutierrez, 32-year-old Hattie Wiginton and 28-year-old Ashley Cravens with two counts of embezzlement by a bank employee and one count of bank robbery. Wiginton also is charged with making a false statement to the FBI. And 59-year-old Linda Wise of Ulysses is charged with one count of embezzlement. The women remain free and are scheduled for initial appearances July 31.

Judge: Disclosure of Abuse Claims Did Not Violate Order

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that former cadets who sued a Kansas military school didn't violate a protective order when their attorney disclosed in a filing that 339 students had complained of being beaten, hazed, harassed or abused over the past five years. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Gale ruled Wednesday that the confidential list was properly filed under seal, while the public motion referenced only the number. But the judge said portions of deposition transcripts from some witnesses that the plaintiffs publicly filed as exhibits violated the court's protective order. He ordered those exhibits immediately sealed. Gale also found that the failure to redact the name of a cadet accused of being a sexual offender was inadvertent. He says the issue is moot because a redacted version was later filed.

Wichita Planning Sports, Entertainment Complex

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita is planning a multimillion dollar sports and entertainment complex that it hopes will draw tournaments and visitors from across the country. Final details are not complete but developers say work could begin late this summer on the GoodSports complex, with opening sometime next summer. The Wichita Eagle reports the last obstacle for the $122 million sales tax and revenue bond project will go before the Wichita City Council August 6. The council is expected to approve a special sales tax to finance a highway interchange that will be a key entrance for the complex. The first phase will be anchored by GoodSports Fieldhouse, a 65,000-square-foot facility. Efforts also are underway to attract retailers to the area.

Zoo in Garden City Addressing USDA Issue

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Federal regulators have given Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City a year to fix a problem with open and unattended gates. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates zoos, says the zoo has to find a way to have the gates attended at all times when the zoo is open, or to have them be self-closing. Zoo director Kathy Sexson said Wednesday the primary concern is animals escaping, or people or animals getting into the zoo and causing problems. The Garden City Telegram reports the zoo hasn't budgeted for the proposed changes, which could cost several thousand dollars. Sexson said the zoo will seek grants or other funding to offset the cost, and also might adjust other projects already budgeted.

Canadian Oil Company Hosts Iola Open House

IOLA, Kan. (AP) — A Canadian company planning to build a 600-mile oil pipeline from Illinois to Oklahoma is coming to eastern Kansas to discuss the project. Enbridge Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, hopes to begin construction early next month on its Flanagan South pipeline. The company has scheduled a series of open house sessions this week in Illinois, Missouri and Kansas. The Iola session is Thursday at the North Community Building from 5-7 pm. Attendees will be able to review project maps and meet with Enbridge employees in an informal session. Enbridge officials say they expect to receive an expedited permit review from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The company's existing Spearhead pipeline runs parallel to the Flanagan South route, with pump stations in place at Linn and Humboldt.

Key Arts Panel Approves Eisenhower Memorial Design

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts has voted to grant general approval to architect Frank Gehry's design for a planned national memorial honoring Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington. The commission overseeing civic art and architecture in the capital reviewed Gehry's core imagery of Eisenhower on Thursday. The members voted 3-1 to approve the general layout. Gehry has proposed a memorial park with statues and images of Ike as president, as World War II hero and as a young boy from Kansas. The park would be framed by large metal tapestries depicting the Kansas landscape of his boyhood home. The commission suggested that Gehry remove two smaller side tapestries and use only one as a backdrop. That would reduce the number of huge stone columns holding them up.




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