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Regional Headlines for Thursday, March 8th, 2012




Santorum Receives Tiahrt Endorsement; Adds Event to In-State Schedule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has added an event in Topeka to his Friday schedule and announced an endorsement by former Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt. 

Santorum's state coordinator Greg Cromer says a 1:30 pm rally is planned at the Great Overland Station, a former Union Pacific railroad depot in north Topeka. 

He'll go from there to a late-afternoon rally at Jabara Airport in Wichita. 

Santorum's campaign announced the Tiahrt endorsement Thursday. Tiahrt represented the 4th Congressional District of south-central Kansas for 16 years and is now a member of the Republican National Committee. 

Santorum also received endorsements from six conservative legislators and some leaders of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life. 


Kansas GOP Rules Favor Top Finishers in Caucuses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party's rules give an edge to the top finishers in the state's GOP presidential caucuses in allocating delegates to the national convention. Forty delegates are stake in Saturday's Kansas caucuses, taking place at 96 locations around the state. The state GOP is hoping 50,000 to 60,000 people will cast votes. Three delegates — all Kansas Republican leaders — are pledged to the candidate who wins the statewide vote. Three delegates will be awarded to the top vote-getter in each of the state's four congressional districts. The remaining 25 delegates will be split proportionally among the presidential hopefuls. But a candidate will qualify for them only if he receives more than 20 percent of the vote statewide.


Anti-Abortion Leader in Kansas Endorses Ron Paul

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue has endorsed Texas Congressman Ron Paul for the Republican presidential nomination. Troy Newman's endorsement was released Thursday by Paul's campaign, two days ahead of voting in the Kansas GOP presidential caucuses. Operation Rescue has its headquarters in Wichita. Many abortion opponents, including leaders of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, are supporting former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum in the presidential race. But in a recorded message distributed by the Paul campaign, Newman said Paul will fight to ban abortion and is the only candidate truly committed to defending the U.S. Constitution. Paul is planning appearances Friday in Topeka, Wichita and Lawrence.


Kansas Arts Advocates Mixed on Governor's Proposal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Advocates for the arts are backing Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's plan to create a new Creative Industries Commission, but say it must have adequate funding. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the Senate Ways and Means Committee took no action Thursday on legislation to create the commission by merging the Kansas Arts Commission and the Film Services Commission. Members directed staff to prepare possible amendments. Brownback proposes providing $200,000 for the new commission. Sarah Fizell, spokeswoman for Kansas Citizens for the Arts, said the group believes more money is needed. Arts advocates were lobbying Thursday at the Statehouse. Brownback wants arts programs to rely more heavily on private money and less on state funds. He vetoed the Arts Commission's budget last year, making Kansas the first state in the nation to eliminate its public arts funding.


Kansas Senate Approves Resolution on Dangers Posed by Antifreeze

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Senate unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the dangers that antifreeze poses to animals and children. The vote Wednesday came at the urging of 12-year-old Aaron Coash of Valley Center, whose dog Nikko died in January after drinking antifreeze, which smells and tastes sweet. The Wichita Eagle reported the boy had wanted a law passed to require additive manufacturers to add an additive that would make it smell and taste bitter. But his request came too late in the legislative session to be considered as a possible new law.


Kansas Supreme Court Disbars Convicted Attorney

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Supreme Court has disbarred a Topeka attorney who was convicted of multiple charges stemming from a 2010 traffic death. The court says that Marc A. Schultz submitted a letter February 29 surrendering his law license. Schultz was prosecuted for a September 2010 collision in rural Shawnee County that killed 55-year-old bicyclist Timothy Roberts. Schultz was sentenced in June of last year to five years and two months in prison for involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident. His law license was suspended last year when he reported his guilty pleas to the charges to the state disciplinary board.


Bob Dole: Kansas Should Support Romney in Caucuses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas political icon Bob Dole is urging fellow Republicans to support front-running presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the state's caucuses. Romney's campaign released a statement Thursday from Dole, the former U.S. Senate majority leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee. The statement came two days ahead of Saturday's GOP presidential caucuses in 96 locations across the state. Dole said Kansas would be well-served if Romney wins the state. He called Romney a main-street conservative. But Romney has no plans to visit Kansas ahead of the caucuses, and his main rival, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, had a rally Wednesday in Lenexa. Santorum also plans to return Friday. Also, Texas Congressman Ron Paul is planning events Friday in Topeka, Wichita and Lawrence. Forty Republican National Convention delegates are at stake in Kansas.


Bill Would Give KCC Fracking Oversight

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Energy and environmental advocates have joined in an unusual alliance to support a bill that would give state regulators the authority to oversee hydraulic fracturing of natural gas in Kansas.  The Kansas Corporation Commission currently regulates the state's oil and gas industry. The proposed bill had a hearing before the Senate Utilities Committee. It would specify that the KCC have authority over fracturing regulations. A succession of attorneys general have said the agency does not have the authority to write rules specifically concerning hydraulic fracturing, widely called "fracking". Currently, the only way to regulate fracking is to have the Legislature pass a law. Representatives from the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association and the Sierra Club testified in favor of the bill.


DNA Hit Finds Possible Suspect in 1985 Rape

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say they have tentatively identified a possible suspect in a 1985 rape that sent a wrongfully convicted man to prison for seven years. Police detective Adam Arensdorf said Wednesday that tests on new evidence found in a Kansas Bureau of Investigation storage vault found the potential DNA match. He says police have to retest the suspect's DNA to verify the match, which could take two to six weeks. Joe Jones of Topeka spent seven years in prison for the rape before he was exonerated by DNA evidence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Jones said he was thrilled that he might finally get closure in the case.


Jury Selected for Chandler Trial 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Opening arguments were scheduled in the trial of a Topeka woman accused of killing her ex-husband and his fiancee in 2002. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a jury of 13 women and five men was selected Wednesday for the trial of 51-year-old Dana L. Chandler, of Duncan, Oklahoma. Opening arguments were scheduled for Thursday. She is charged with two counts of premeditated first-degree murder in the July 7, 2002, slayings of her ex-husband, 47-year-old Mike Sisco, and 53-year-old Karen Harkness, at Harkness' Topeka home. Prosecutors allege she shot the two after Sisco told her he planned to marry Harkness. Chandler was arrested in Oklahoma last July.


Wichita Mosque Begins Rebuilding After Fire

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Four months after a fire seriously damaged a mosque in west Wichita, rebuilding efforts have begun. A fire last Halloween caused about $130,000 in damage to the Islamic Association of Mid Kansas mosque. The cause of the fire has not been determined. Donna Sibaai, a spokeswoman for the mosque, said Wednesday that members of the community raised about $100,000 for the first phase of rebuilding. She says Muslims traditionally don't take out mortgages on their places of worship, so the reconstruction will be done in phases. Wichita Fire Captain Stuart Bevis said federal investigators are still analyzing evidence from the fire. The Wichita Eagle reports the mosque was the first formal mosque in Kansas when it opened in 1978. There are now three mosques in Wichita.


New Hearing Date Set in Kansas Commune Death Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A judge has set a new hearing date for the man charged with the 2003 drowning death of a woman who was a member of his Valley Center commune. Sedgwick County Judge Warren Wilbert on Thursday scheduled a May 29 preliminary hearing in the case of Daniel U. Perez. The 52-year-old Perez, who for years was known as Lou Castro, is charged with premeditated murder of Patricia Hughes. Prosecutors must show a judge at the proceeding they have enough evidence for a murder trial on a death that was initially ruled an accident. Perez also is charged with multiple counts of lying on life insurance applications, rape, sodomy, criminal threat and making false statements on auto credit applications.


U.S. Senate Blocks Bid to Speed Keystone Pipeline Approval

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-controlled Senate has rejected a Republican bid to speed approval of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. The 56-42 vote Thursday was the latest in a series of partisan skirmishes over the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil derived from tar sands in western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Sixty votes were needed for approval. President Barack Obama rejected the proposed $7 billion pipeline in January, citing uncertainty over a yet-to-be-settled route that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region in Nebraska. Obama said there was not enough time for a fair review before a deadline forced on him by Republicans. Pipeline supporters call it an important job creator. Opponents say it would transport "dirty oil" that requires huge amounts of energy to produce.


University of Kansas Offers Educational 'Summer Camp for Adults'

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas is offering dozens of courses during its annual "summer camp for adults." Called Mini College, the weeklong program at the Lawrence campus is sponsored by the university's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and is entering its fourth year. From June 4 to June 7, participants will be able to take classes in the arts, natural sciences, mathematics, social and behavioral sciences and the humanities. Faculty from the university's School of Business also will teach this year, allowing for an even wider range of options. Course titles include "You Too Can Be a Theoretical Physicist" and "Investing Behaviors to Avoid." The $225 registration fee covers courses, special events, extracurricular activities and lunch. For the full college experience, participants can pay more to stay in student housing. More than 125 participants signed up in each of the first three years of the program.


3 Held in Kansas City, Kansas Double Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas say three people have been arrested in connection with a weekend shooting that left two people dead and a baby wounded. KCTV reports police were meeting with Wyandotte County prosecutors Thursday on possible charges. No details about the suspects have been released. Police were called to an apartment early Sunday on a report of prolonged gunshots. They found 16-year-old Renesha Jones and 21-year-old Keith Barrett dead, and Barrett's infant son wounded. The baby was treated for a leg wound and released from the hospital. Jones was a student at Center High School in Kansas City, Missouri and the sister of the baby's mother. She was babysitting her nephew when she was killed.


Big 12 Tournament Underway; K-State Women and KU Men Advance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — At the Big 12 tournament today (THUR) in Kansas City, the University of Kansas men's team defeated Texas A&M by a score of 83 to 66. The Kansas State men lost to Baylor by a final score of 82 to 74. Meanwhile, the K-State women's team notched a 67-63 victory over Iowa State in the Big 12 women's tournament quarterfinals. The KU women are slated to play Texas A&M at 7:30 pm. 


Cameras to Document "A Day in the Life of Hutchinson"

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — If you're in Hutchinson on Friday, you could find yourself on candid camera. The Reno County Museum and the Hutchinson Landmarks Commission have asked residents to carry cameras Friday to document "A Day in the Life of Hutchinson" for posterity. The Hutchinson News reports that residents are asked to photograph scenes at home, work or school, relaxing, exercising or wherever else they might find themselves on a Friday in early March. A selection of the photos will go into a time capsule and sealed in the cornerstone of Hutchinson's Memorial Hall on April 27, as the city celebrates the 100th anniversary of the building's grand opening.

Musician Chely Wright to Open LGBT Center in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chely Wright, one of the first country artists to come out as gay, is opening a community center this weekend in Kansas City, Missouri.  The new center, called the LIKEME Lighthouse, is meant to serve as a place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their supporters to meet and hang out. It's also the most ambitious project yet undertaken by Wright's LIKEME Organization. The facility will feature a library and offer exercise and craft classes, along with events such as health fairs. Wright's hits include "Single White Female" and "Shut Up and Drive." She grew up in nearby Wellsville, Kansas. Wright came out in May 2010, and married her partner, Lauren Blitzer, last summer.


Kansas Aviation Museum to Dedicate Archive Center

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita is celebrating its new, $120,000 Special Archive Center. A dedication ceremony is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, with a free open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The entire museum will be open for viewing. The 6,000-square-foot facility is the culmination of four years of work to build a space that meets or exceeds the standards of the American Association of Museums for archival storage. The archive center will house the museum's most sensitive collections such as books, magazines, microfilm, photographs, film and other items of aviation history.


KC Hospital Vies for Award from Cyclist's Charity

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A major Kansas City hospital is a candidate for an award from cyclist Lance Armstrong's cancer charity Livestrong. Truman Medical Centers is seeking recognition for its palliative care program, which focuses on relieving pain and stress, and providing comfort care. Livestrong's Community Impact Project will offer nearly $1.4 million in awards to 90 finalists. Those finalists will be determined through an online voting campaign that began Wednesday and ends March 23. Truman's chief nursing officer, Lynette Wheeler, says the hospital looks forward to working with the charity "to make a difference in the lives of cancer survivors and their families."


Missouri Family Sex Case Charges Being Dismissed

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ All charges against five men who were accused of molesting young relatives decades ago on a western Missouri farm are being dismissed. The Lafayette County Prosecutor in Missouri Kellie Wingate Campbell told The Associated Press that all three counties where cases were filed against Burrell Mohler Senior and his four sons were notified of the dismissals Wednesday afternoon. In a brief interview with the AP, Campbell said the issue wasn't whether she believed the allegations, but whether she could prove them beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Mohler and his four sons, Burrell Junior, David, Jared and Roland, were charged in November 2009 with dozens of rapes and other brutal sex acts after five young relatives came forward with their claims.

Commune Leader Accused of Killing Group Member Who Aided Him in Texas Case  

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The daughter of a Kansas commune leader charged in a group member's 2003 death says her father could not have hurt the woman because she had done so much for him. Windy Aleman told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that Daniel Perez had fled sentencing on a Texas case several years earlier with the help of Patricia Hughes, the woman he's accused of killing. Police had believed the 26-year-old Hughes drowned while trying to rescue her 2-year-old daughter from a swimming pool at the Valley Center compound where the commune once lived. Now, prosecutors must show they have evidence to prove her death was premeditated murder perpetrated by the leader of a group that lived off millions of dollars in life insurance payouts from dead members.


Kansas Arts Advocates to Lobby Legislature 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Arts advocates are planning to converge on the Kansas Statehouse as legislative committees review Governor Sam Brownback's proposal for arts funding. Kansas Citizens for the Arts is sponsoring today's (THU) lobbying. It comes the same day the Senate Ways and Means Committee and the House Education Budget Committee hold hearings on Brownback's proposal to provide $200,000 to a new Kansas Creative Industries Commission. The new commission would merge the Kansas Arts Commission and the state Film Services Commission. Many arts advocates consider it inadequate for supporting arts programs. Brownback wants arts programs to rely more heavily on private money and less on state funds. Last year, the governor vetoed the Arts Commission's budget, making Kansas the first state to eliminate its arts funding.


Kansas Legislators Urge Delay in Medicaid Changes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A bipartisan group of Kansas legislators wants Governor Sam Brownback to delay his proposed changes in the state's Medicaid program until 2013. The lawmakers - Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate - are circulating a petition among colleagues. They said Wednesday there are too many unknowns about the Republican administration's plans to move to a managed-care system of health plans for poor and elderly Kansans. The administration wants to award three contracts to manage the program. But the legislators worry the changes will reduce benefits for Medicaid recipients or reimbursements for providers. Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer says delaying the changes would do nothing to slow the state's rising health care costs. Colyer says nearly 75 percent of Kansas Medicaid recipients are already covered by managed-care programs.




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