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Regional Headlines for Thursday, March 1, 2012

 

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UPDATE: Harveyville Tornado Claims One Life  

A man who was critically injured by an EF-2 tornado that struck Harveyville Tuesday night has died at a Topeka hospital.  Officials say
53-year-old Richard D. Slade was airlifted to Stormont-Vail after being pulled from the wreckage of his home. He remained in critical condition and the decision was made to take him off life support. Slade died last (WED) night.
 
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KS Tornado Victims Clean-Up, Get Help Replacing Documents

People across Kansas are cleaning up from this week's powerful storms that affected many counties in the eastern half of Kansas.  Authorities say the EF-2 tornado that destroyed much of Harveyville, in northeast Kansas, had wind speeds of up to 130 miles per hour.  Emergency officials are allowing volunteers into the town today (THUR) to begin the recovery effort.  So far, only residents have been allowed into the small Wabaunseee County town.  Emergency officials say anyone wanting to work in the town can check in at the Mission Valley School in Eskridge beginning today (THUR).  The United Way says volunteers will need to sign liability release forms. They will receive wrist bands and hear a safety briefing before being taken to Harveyville.  The United Ways also says no clothing donations are needed at this time.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Department of Revenue is taking steps to help residents of tornado-stricken Wabaunsee County replace tax documents and state-issued licenses or identification.  Governor Sam Brownback has declared a state of emergency for the county, where Tuesday night's tornado destroyed about half the buildings in Harveyville.  Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan says the department will waive fees for replacing certain documents, such as driver's licenses, vehicle titles or state identification. Residents will need to prove they live in the Wabaunsee County to get new licenses.  Those needing free replacement copies of their tax returns can call the Revenue Department (785) 368-8222.

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Obama Calls Governors of States Hit by Twisters

NEW YORK (AP) — President Barack Obama has called the governors of six states recovering from devastating tornados and said he was ready to assist with their needs.  The White House says Obama called the governors of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.  Obama placed the calls while driving from Nashua, N.H., to the airport in Manchester, N.H. He then landed in New York, where he was attending four fundraisers.  White House spokesman Jay Carney says Obama expressed his condolences to the governors and told them his thoughts and prayers were with the families of those affected by the violent twisters.
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Bald Eagles Nesting in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More bald eagles appear to be nesting in Kansas.  Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says a survey found eight eagle nests with eggs in south-central Kansas. That's up from seven active nests last year in the area that stretches from Marion County to Kingman County.  Charlie Cope, wildlife biologist at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, told The Wichita Eagle that five active nests were found in Cowley County and one each in Sumner, Kingman and Sedgwick counties. The active Sedgwick County nest is near Derby on the Arkansas River.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says about 60 active eagle nests are expected to be found in Kansas this year. Kansas had about 50 nests last year.

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First Lady to Attend Event in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Michelle Obama will be in Kansas City next week for a Democratic Party event.  Obama's office said Thursday the first lady is to speak Monday at a Democratic National Committee luncheon in Kansas City. No other details of those appearances were announced.  The White House says Obama will greet National Guard members and military veterans when she arrives at Kansas City's airport.

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Brown v. Board Visitors Site Spent $886K

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report shows the nearly 18,000 people who visited the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in 2010 spent $886,000 at the Topeka attraction and the surrounding area.
The site is dedicated to telling the story of the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned segregated education.  The National Park Service estimates that the spending supported 14 jobs. Fifty-two percent of the spending and jobs are related to lodging and dining. Another 29 percent of the spending was on retail, 10 percent was for entertainment and amusements, 7 percent was for gas and transportation and 2 percent for groceries.  Data about the Brown site is part of a broader visitor spending analysis conducted for the National Park Service by Michigan State University professor emeritus Daniel Stynes.

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Shooting in Leavenworth County Leaves 2 Men Dead

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in northeastern Kansas have identified the man who opened fire in a murder-suicide as a 32-year-old Leavenworth resident.  The shootings occurred around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday outside Lansing, in rural Leavenworth County.  Undersheriff Ron Cranor said today (THUR) that Kenneth McClellan forced his way into the home of 66-year-old John O'Brien Jr., with whose daughter he had an estranged relationship. The undersheriff said McClellan shot and killed O'Brien, then left through a back door and fatally shot himself.  The Kansas City Star reports that authorities initially thought O'Brien's daughter had also been shot, but doctors at a hospital determined she had been hit in the face with the gun. She was treated and released.

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KC Police Looking for Pair Who Burned Boy with Gasoline

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are looking for two teenagers who a 13-year-old boy says followed him home from school and started a gasoline fire that burned his face and hair.  Detective Stacey Taylor says the boy suffered first-degree burns but no permanent damage in the incident Tuesday afternoon.  Taylor says one of the assailants picked up a gas can on the porch of the boy's home while the other kept the boy from going inside. Some of the gasoline spilled during a struggle, and the boy says one of the attackers said "this is what you get" before lighting the spilled fuel.  Taylor says the case is not being treated as a hate crime.

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State Tax Revenue Totals $29 Million More Than Expected

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state agency says Kansas collected $29 million more in taxes than anticipated in February.  The Department of Revenue says the state collected more than $261 million in February, about 12.6 percent more than the expected $232 million.  Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan calls it a sign that the Kansas economy is recovering and more people are finding jobs.  Kansas was coming off a January in which a surge of early income tax filings led to an increase in total tax refunds and left revenues nearly $31 million short of expectations.  But since the fiscal year began in July the picture has been positive. Tax collections in the first eight months of the fiscal year total nearly $3.7 billion — about $32 million more than expected.

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Funeral for Iraq War Veteran Who Died after Lawrence Bar Brawl

CLARENCE, N.Y. (AP) — Funeral services are scheduled in suburban Buffalo for an Iraq war veteran who died after getting into a fight in the Kansas town where he was attending college.  Buffalo media outlets report that 27-year-old Nicholas Sardina was found dead last Saturday in his apartment in Lawrence, where he was attending classes at the University of Kansas.  Police say he had been in a fight at a house party several hours before at another home in Lawrence. Autopsy results are still pending. Authorities say no arrests have been made.  Sardina joined the Army after graduating from Clarence High School and served several tours in Iraq before being honorably discharged in 2008.  His funeral is being held Friday morning at a Catholic church in Clarence, just east of Buffalo.

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KS Couple Sentenced in Welfare Fraud Case

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas couple will be sentenced in March after pleading no contest to defrauding the state's welfare system.  The Leavenworth Times reports that 44-year-old Gregory Riley and 47-year-old Diana Riley entered the pleas this week to one count each of felony welfare fraud and perjury.  The Rileys, who live in Bonner Springs, reached the plea agreement ahead of what was expected to be a lengthy preliminary hearing beginning today (THUR).  Prosecutors said that from 2005 to 2009, the couple wrongfully obtained more than $22,000 in food stamp assistance and more than $60,000 in medical assistance.  At one point, the county attorney says, the Rileys reported having a total of $75 in two bank accounts when they actually had nearly $10,000 in cash in five accounts plus a second home.

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KS House Majority Leader Wants All-Faiths Chapel at Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid has introduced a bill to set aside space in the Kansas Statehouse for prayer, meditation and reflection.  The Olathe Republican told the House Federal and State Affairs Committee that the U.S. Capitol and several other states have such chapels for use by all faiths. Siegfreid said the space would be paid for through private funds.  He said Republican Governor Sam Brownback has offered to allow legislators to use a portion of the space allotted to his office on the second floor in the Statehouse for the chapel. Siegfreid said eventually the chapel would be located in the visitors' center scheduled to be built in the Statehouse.  Siegfreid said Brownback has offered to help him raise money for the chapel project.

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Proposed Settlement between Landowners and Telecom Companies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A proposed settlement of claims by thousands of Kansas landowners against three of the nation's largest telecommunications companies is expected to go before a federal judge for approval.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Gale scheduled a hearing today (THUR) on a deal to end the property rights dispute over installation of fiber-optic cable on railroad rights of way. The agreement comes in a lawsuit filed against Sprint Communications, Qwest and Level 3 Communications.  The proposal would resolve claims affecting about 459 miles of rights of way throughout Kansas.  The settlement is expected to be worth more than $4.2 million. Class members would get $2.98 million while attorneys would get $1 million.  At issue was whether railroads have the right to allow telecommunications companies to lay the cable.

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Salina Leases First Space in Former Hawker Beechcraft Area

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina officials are hoping a new tenant at an industrial park that used to house Hawker Beechcraft will be the first of many attracted to the area.  The Salina Airport Authority and city leaders have announced a lease agreement with Universal Forest Products to move into the Salina Airport Industrial Center.  The company, which is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, builds wood packaging crates for shipping products. It signed a three-year lease.  The Salina Journal reports that Hawker Beechcraft has turned over the keys to 10 buildings at the industrial park. The Wichita airplane maker closed its Salina division in 2009, eliminating 238 jobs and an estimated $12 million in annual payroll.

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Bald Eagles Nesting in Kansas

 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More bald eagles appear to be nesting in Kansas. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says a survey found eight eagle nests with eggs in south-central Kansas. That's up from seven active nests last year in the area that stretches from Marion County to Kingman County. Charlie Cope, wildlife biologist at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, told The Wichita Eagle that five active nests were found in Cowley County and one each in Sumner, Kingman and Sedgwick counties. The active Sedgwick County nest is near Derby on the Arkansas River. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says about 60 active eagle nests are expected to be found in Kansas this year. Kansas had about 50 nests last year.

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