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Regional Headlines for Thursday, June 13, 2013


KS Governor Signs KS Tax Legislation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is preparing to sign legislation making additional cuts to Kansas income taxes over the next five years.  The Republican governor has scheduled a signing ceremony today (THUR) in Overland Park, with another ceremony later in the day in Wichita.  The changes in income tax rates include an adjustment in the standard deduction for personal income taxes.  The legislation also addresses the state sales tax, which had been scheduled to drop in July from 6.3 percent to 5.7 percent. Lawmakers voted instead to trim the rate slightly, to 6.15 percent, which will raise an estimated $777 million over five years.  Legislators approved the measure this year after passing massive income tax cuts in 2012. Brownback has said he hopes eventually to eliminate the state income tax entirely.


GAO Rejects Beechcraft's Protest of Lost Contract

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal agency has rejected Wichita-based Beechcraft's protest of the award of an Air Force contract for light air support planes to Sierra Nevada Corp. and its Brazil-based partner, Embraer. Both companies issued statements Thursday announcing the decision by the Government Accountability Office. It's the latest development in a high-stakes competition that has taken nearly three years with legal challenges from both sides. The contract for 20 planes for use in Afghanistan is worth more than $427 million. It could be worth as much as $1 billion, depending on future orders. Sierra Nevada and Embraer lauded the decision as a win for U.S. forces and allies in Afghanistan. But Beechcraft is calling for Congress to step in and limit the purchase to only the portion covered by the first delivery order.


Wichita Boy Wounded by Shots Fired Outside Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police believe the shooter who fired on a home and struck a sleeping 4-year-old boy targeted the wrong address. The shooting happened around 3 a.m. Thursday. Police say the boy and his mother were asleep in a bedroom of a duplex at the time. The 4-year-old was taken to St. Francis Hospital with a gunshot wound in his back. Police said he was in stable condition after surgery and is expected to recover. Police said five shots were fired from outside the home. A search for suspects continued Thursday afternoon.


Cousin Testifies in Zoey Belcher Hearing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Texas woman seeking custody of her slain cousin's baby says she doesn't blame the family of Kansas City Chiefs player Javon Belcher for shootings that left the little girl an orphan. Belcher fatally shot Kasandra Perkins, with whom he had a 9-month-old daughter, on Dec. 1 before killing himself. His mother, Cheryl Shepherd, is vying with Sophie Perkins, Kasandra Perkins' cousin, for custody of little Zoey Belcher. Perkins lives near Austin, Texas. Shepherd is from West Babylon, N.Y. Perkins testified Thursday as a three-day custody hearing was scheduled to conclude in Jackson County probate court. But probate commissioner Daniel Wheeler has said he won't make an immediate ruling.


Federal Grant will Help Topeka School be Bilingual

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal grant has three Topeka elementary schools making big plans for the future. The Scott Dual-Language Magnet, Ross Elementary and Quincy Elementary learned recently that they will receive a total of more than $2.5 million in federal school improvement grants for the next school year. The schools will receive more federal money in the following two academic years if Congress provides the funding. Deborah Perbeck, a district administrator, said the money will pay for everything from new employees to iPads. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Scott Dual-Language Magnet expects to receive ends of thousands of dollars for Spanish-language materials. The school is transitioning into a fully bilingual program. At Ross and Quincy, the money will help introduce a program that targets children who need extra help getting to college.

Judge Appoints New Attorney in Porn Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man who faces more than 100 child pornography charges will get a new attorney. A Shawnee County judge on Wednesday appointed a new attorney for Jason W. Hachmeister, who said he no longer trusted attorney Napoleon Crews, of Lawrence. The 39-year-old Hachmeister is charged with 108 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. His trial is scheduled to start June 24. Hachmeister is charged in another case with killing his mother in 2011. Prosecutors say the child pornography was found on Hachmeister's personal computer during an investigation into the September 2011 killing of 58-year-old Sheila R. Hachmeister of Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports jury selection in the murder trial is scheduled to start Sept. 9.


Kansas Winter Wheat Harvest Getting Slow Start

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The winter wheat harvest is off to a slow, tentative start in south-central Kansas. Steve Inslee, general manager at the OK Co-op in Kiowa, said Thursday that local farmers have cut a few acres and the grain elevator has taken a couple of loads of wheat. He doesn't look for the area's harvest to begin in earnest until Sunday or Monday. Inslee expects the elevator to take in just 1 million bushels this season because of the drought. That would be one-third of what it received last year. The industry group Kansas Wheat says it knows of no other harvest activity besides Kiowa. Group spokesman Bill Spiegel says the Kansas harvest was about 70 percent complete at this time last year.



Lawrence Man Gets Life Sentence for Child Rape

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man will spend at least 25 years in prison for the rape of a young girl who told police she was repeatedly abused over a period of years.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a Douglas County judge gave Robert Leo Hill two life sentences yesterday (WED) -- one for rape, the other for aggravated indecent liberties.  The 42-year-old Lawrence man pleaded no contest to the charges last month. Prosecutors dropped eight other counts in exchange for Hill's acceptance of the life sentences.  The sentences will run together, and Hill will be eligible for parole after 25 years.  Hill told the judge he was "very, very, very sorry" and never meant to harm the victim, who is now 12 years old and has moved out of Kansas.


4-Year-Old Wichita Boy Shot in Drive-By Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 4-year-old boy is in stable condition at St. Francis Hospital after he was shot while sleeping in his home.  Police say the boy and his mother were sleeping early Thursday when someone fired at least five shots into their home. The boy was hit the back and is expected to recover from his injuries.  Police are still investigating and do not currently have any suspects.


Amid Fire Danger, Western KS Bakes in Record Heat

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Record-breaking heat is settling in over parts of western Kansas, and there's concern that gusting winds could create a fire hazard.  The Garden City Telegram reports high temperatures in that city broke long-standing records Monday and Tuesday. The mercury hit 108 both days, and Wednesday's high was expected to reach 101.  The heat is being joined by winds gusting to as high as 36 miles per hour. It's a combination that put much of southwest Kansas under a red flag warning, meaning that conditions are favorable for fires.  Garden City and other spots around the western half of Kansas are expected to be at or near 100 through Friday, with cooler — but still hot — temperatures arriving this weekend along with a chance for isolated storms.


Institute: Old KS Science Standards Were Better

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An educational think tank says Kansas is replacing some of the nation's strongest science standards for public schools with weaker, multistate guidelines.  The Thomas B. Fordham Institute's report on the new standards was released today (THUR). two days after their adoption by the Kansas State Board of Education.  The new standards were drafted by 26 states and the National Research Council. Educators and officials have praised them as a major improvement, partly because they emphasize hands-on projects.  But Fordham Institute gave the multistate standards a "C'' grade.  And the institute last year gave Kansas' old standards a "B." Only seven states and the District of Columbia received higher grades.  The institute says the newest standards scrimp on detail about the key concepts students are supposed to learn.


Kansas Tribes Get Federal Housing Grants

HORTON, Kan. (AP) — A federal agency has awarded grants totaling more than $1 million to two American Indian tribes in northeast Kansas for affordable housing.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the grants Wednesday.  The Kickapoo Tribe, based in Horton, will receive about $820,000. HUD also said the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska was awarded about $394,000. The Iowa Tribe has offices in White Cloud, Kansas.  Federal officials said in a news release that the grants may be used to build affordable housing, or for programs that contribute to housing availability and public safety.  The grants to the Kansas tribes were part of $563 million being distributed this year to 353 American Indian and Alaskan Native agencies.


3 More Dodge City Gang Members Plead Guilty to Various Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Three more members of a Dodge City gang targeted in a federal racketeering crackdown have pleaded guilty to criminal charges.  The U.S. Attorney's office says the pleas were entered by 27-year-old Angel Cerda, 29-year-old Jesus Torres and 26-year-old Fabian Neave (nay-AH'-vay).  Cerda admitted being involved in a 2008 shooting in which two people were wounded. The charges against Torres involved the stabbings of two people in August 2011. Neave admitted taking part in robbery, attempted murder and drug trafficking.  Federal prosecutors obtained racketeering indictments against 23 gang members in the Dodge City area in May 2011, accusing them of victimizing immigrants who were in the U.S. illegally. Several of those charged have now pleaded guilty.


Charges Dismissed against KS Killer's Wife in Death of Patricia Kimmi

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A woman whose husband was convicted of killing a Kansas woman is no longer facing charges of helping him avoid arrest.  Charges were dismissed Wednesday against Rebecca Hollister, wife of Roger Hollister, who was convicted of killing 58-year-old Patricia Kimmi of Rural Horton in 2009.  Rebecca Hollister, of Topeka, was charged in March with aiding a felon. Prosecutors had alleged she tried to help her husband avoid arrest and conviction after Kimmi's death.  Roger Hollister died in March while serving a life sentence in the El Dorado Correctional Facility.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Nemaha County Attorney Brad Lippert said in his motion to dismiss that an essential state witness had died, making it difficult to prosecute Rebecca Hollister.


Judge Appoints New Attorney in Topeka Porn Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man who faces more than 100 child pornography charges will get a new attorney.  A Shawnee County judge has appointed a new attorney for Jason W. Hachmeister, who said he no longer trusted attorney Napoleon Crews, of Lawrence.  The 39-year-old Hachmeister is charged with 108 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. His trial is scheduled to start June 24.  Hachmeister is charged in another case with killing his mother in 2011.  Prosecutors say the child pornography was found on Hachmeister's personal computer during an investigation into the September 2011 killing of 58-year-old Sheila R. Hachmeister of Topeka.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that jury selection in the murder trial is scheduled to start September 9.


KS Wheat Outlook Improving Amid Spring Rains

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government forecast for the size of the 2013 Kansas winter wheat crop reflects improvements amid the state's wet spring weather.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service has revised its Kansas production estimate to 307.8 million bushels. That's up 3 percent from last month's forecast but would still be down 21 percent from last year's crop.  The agency also revised its average yield estimate to 38 bushels an acre. That is up 1 bushel from what had been expected just a month ago, but 4 bushels per acre fewer than what Kansas growers were cutting last year.  The 8.1 million wheat acres anticipated to be harvested in Kansas this year remain unchanged from last month's estimate. It is down 11 percent from a year ago.


Holcomb to Delay New State Concealed Carry Law

HOLCOMB, Kan. (AP) — Holcomb city officials have voted to delay implementing a new state law that allows concealed weapons in public buildings.  The law takes effect July 1 but local governments are allowed to seek a delay until January 1, 2014. The law requires local governments to allow concealed weapons in public buildings unless they have an adequate plan for security at the buildings.  The Holcomb City Council voted Wednesday to seek the delay. City administrator Robin Pena said the six-month extension will give Holcomb time to create a plan to keep everyone safe.  The Garden City Telegram reports that council members said the extension also would give them time to watch how other local governments address the issue, and to see if some questions about the law are clarified.


Judge Rules against Claims by Former Kansas City Detective

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has rejected claims by a former Kansas City, Kansas, police detective that he was punished for refusing to conceal a motorist's beating by federal agents.  U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten issued a summary judgment Wednesday for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, the sheriff and an undersheriff in the 2011 lawsuit brought by Max Seifert.  Seifert alleged he suffered retaliation for investigating Drug Enforcement Administration agents involved in a 2003 road-rage incident that left a man with permanent brain damage.  Marten ruled Seifert failed to prove that his testimony in that case led to the suspension of his duties as an investigator and the termination of his reserve commission.  The judge said the defendants presented "credible evidence" they were motivated by concerns from prosecutors about Seifert's credibility.






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