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Regional Headlines for Thursday, May 2, 2013


U.S. Attorney General: New Kansas Gun Law is Unconstitutional

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has told Kansas Governor Sam Brownback that a new state law attempting to block federal regulation of some guns is unconstitutional. The U.S. attorney's office for Kansas on Thursday released a copy of a letter to Brownback from Holder last week, sent the day after the new state law took effect. The law says the federal government has no authority to regulate guns manufactured, sold and kept only in Kansas and makes it a felony for a federal agent to enforce any regulations of those guns. Holder said the U.S. Constitution prohibits the state from pre-empting federal laws. He said the federal government is willing to go to court. 


Kansas NRA Official: Kansans 'All In' for State Gun Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The head of the Kansas Rifle Association says gun rights supporters in Kansas are "all in" for a new state law that seeks to block federal regulation of some guns. She's reacting to the news that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has told Governor Sam Brownback the new law is unconstitutional and the federal government is willing to go to court over it. Kansas State Rifle Association President Patricia Stoneking says gun rights supporters have been prepared for such a response from President Barack Obama's administration. And she says "the people of Kansas are going to back this up." The Kansas law is modeled on a 2009 Montana law that is being reviewed by a federal appeals court, and Alaska lawmakers approved a similar measure last month. Alabama, Missouri and Oklahoma lawmakers are considering similar legislation.


Kansas Concealed Carry Applications Increase in April

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas attorney general's office is working to keep up with the fast pace of applications for concealed-carry permits. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office received 3,462 applications during April. Schmidt's office said Thursday that's the third-highest month since the state's licensing program began in 2007. Schmidt's staff also received a record 4,072 applications in March for licenses to pack a hidden handgun. That followed 3,573 requests in February and 3,167 in January. Schmidt's office has been criticized for not completing the processing of applications within the legal maximum of 90 days. He says most applications are now being turned around in 89 days or less and that more employees have been assigned to the conceal-carry division and have been working overtime.


Kobach Considering Appeal of Redistricting Ruling

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he's considering an appeal of a federal court order requiring Kansas to cover $389,000 worth of attorneys' fees and expenses for parties in a lawsuit over political redistricting. Kobach said Thursday that it's "ridiculous" that taxpayers would have to foot such a bill. The lawsuit stemmed from the Legislature's impasse last year over redrawing the state's political boundaries to ensure equal representation. Three federal judges hearing the lawsuit drew new lines themselves. Kobach was sued as the state's chief elections officer. The judges handling the case allowed 27 people to participate in the case against Kobach over his objections. The judges ruled Tuesday that 15 individuals are entitled to have at least some of their attorneys' fees and expenses covered by the state.


Interstate 70 Reopens in Western Kansas

GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) — Interstate 70 in western Kansas has reopened after a storm system began moving east. The Kansas Department of Transportation reopened the interstate from Goodland to Burlington, Colorado about 8 am Thursday. The interstate was closed about 9:30 Wednesday night. The closure was prompted by driving conditions combined with road construction projects, which caused slide-offs and some accidents Wednesday evening. Other roads in northwest Kansas are reported as snowpacked and icy as a storm system that dropped several inches of snow in Colorado moved east. Some towns in northwest Kansas reported between 1-3 inches of snow. The National Weather Service says the storm system will move east across Kansas through Thursday, bringing light snow or cold rain to much of the state.

Accumulating Snow Possible for KC Area

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The calendar says "May," but the conditions outside are anything but spring-like. A storm carrying cold air and plenty of moisture moved over Kansas City Thursday, and forecasters said rain was likely to turn to snow before midnight. The National Weather Service said that by Friday morning, 1 to 3 inches of snow was possible, with temperatures only reaching the high 30s to near 40. The NWS said snow has fallen on Kansas City only four times since records starting being kept, with the only measurable snow — 1.7 inches — coming on May 3, 1907. Central Missouri could also see snow from the system on Friday. Numerous roads across northwest Kansas were snowpacked, with some towns reporting between 1-3 inches of snow.


Kansas Governor Names 2 District Court Judges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has named two district court judges to fill vacancies, including one caused by the appointment of a judge to the Kansas Court of Appeals. Brownback, a Republican, named Linda Gilmore of Liberal to replace Judge Kim Schroeder in the 26th District in southwest Kansas. Schroeder was appointed earlier to the Court of Appeals. The 26th District covers Grant, Haskell, Morton, Seward, Stanton and Stevens counties. The governor also appointed Aaron Roberts of Kansas City, Kansas to fill an opening in the 29th District, which covers Wyandotte County. Roberts fills an opening left by the retirement of Judge Ernest Johnson. Both district court positions are in districts that elect their judges, meaning the appointees will face election in 2014 if they choose to keep their positions.

Ford Adding 2,000 Workers to Claycomo Plant

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is adding 2,000 workers at a Kansas City-area plant to keep up with surging demand for pickup trucks. The company said Thursday it will add another shift with 900 workers in the third quarter of this year. That's on top of 1,100 workers it's adding in the fourth quarter to build its new Transit van. The plant, which is just outside Kansas City in Claycomo, already has 2,450 workers on two shifts. Ford's pickup sales are up 19 percent this year as home builders and other construction workers replace trucks they held onto during the recession. The F-Series is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., with more than 228,000 sold through April. Ford Motor Company plans to bring back 1,000 laid-off workers and hire 1,000 new ones. Meanwhile, Missouri's governor hailed the news as another step in the rebirth of the American auto industry. Governor Jay Nixon says the company's October 2011 announcement that it would spend $1.1 billion to expand the plant helped jump start the state's economy, and Thursday's announcement was proof that his efforts to revitalize the state's auto manufacturing industry were gaining steam.


New Police Auxiliary in Valley Falls Under Fire

VALLEY FALLS, Kan. (AP) — After just one week of operation, some citizens of Valley Falls have already had enough of the town's new police auxiliary program. Valley Falls, a Jefferson County town of about 1,200 residents, started the program April 25. It allows some civilians without police training to patrol the city in police cars. The two has two full-time and two part-time police officers. About 40 people attended a Valley Falls City Council meeting Wednesday night to complain about the actions of some of the auxiliary officers Saturday night. Some residents say teenagers were drag-racing and speeding on the main street in Valley Falls, and one of the auxiliary officers joined in. WIBW reports that the council decided to table the auxiliary program while gathering more information on how it should be operated.

Kansas Woman Arrested in Theft from Animal Clinic

CHENEY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 31-year-old woman is in jail after being arrested in the theft of thousands of dollars of animal medications and supplies from a clinic in Cheney. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says it recovered most of the $20,000 in supplies stolen last week from the Cheney Animal Clinic. The medications and vaccines stolen included euthanasia solution and ketamine, an animal anesthetic often used as a hallucinogen. Lieutenant David Mattingly said most of the items were recovered from a home in Kingman County and a Wichita motel. The theft remains under investigation.


Body Identified As Missing Wichita 19-Year-Old

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County investigators say a body found in a field southeast of Wichita is that of a 19-year-old who was reported missing about a month ago. A farmer found the body of Jordan Turner of Wichita in a cotton field Wednesday. His father had reported him missing April 6. Investigators say his death was a homicide but they did not release details of how he was killed. This is the first homicide in Sedgwick County this year, not including the city of Wichita.


Shawnee Approves Google Fiber Launch

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Officials in Shawnee have approved an agreement authorizing the launch of Google Fiber in the Kansas City suburb. The Shawnee City Council said in a release that council members approved the agreement Thursday, making Shawnee the fifth Johnson County municipality to strike a deal bringing in the high-speed service to compete with cable and telephone companies for TV and Internet access subscriptions. Google Fiber offers a network that strings fiber optic lines to homes and supplies commercial strength Internet hookups at home consumer rates. So far, only a few neighborhoods in Kansas City, Kansas have been connected to the network. A few more homes in Kansas City, Missouri are scheduled to get the service this month.


Kansas Humanities Council Names New State Poet Laureate

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Humanities Council announced Wednesday that Wyatt Townley of Leawood is the 2013-15 Kansas Poet Laureate. Townley, a fourth-generation Kansan, says she hopes to use poetry to help Kansans explore the concept of home. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Townley is the first poet laureate selected by the Humanities Council, which took over the program from the now-defunct Kansas Arts Commission. She's a founding board member of The Writers Place in Kansas City, Missouri and has appeared at writers' conferences and literary festivals in the Midwest and Northeast. She takes over the post from Lawrence resident Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, who was the 2009-2012 Poet Laureate of Kansas.


Kansas Wheat Tour Forecasts 313 Million Bushel Crop

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Participants in the Kansas wheat quality tour have forecast the state will harvest 313 million bushels despite drought and freezes. The announcement Thursday at the Kansas City Board of Trade pegged average yields at slightly above 41 bushels per acre. The estimates are based on about 570 stops at wheat fields across the state during a three-day tour. This year's estimate is down from the 382.2 million bushels cut last year. But it is still better than the 276.5 million bushels harvested during drought-plagued 2011. Aaron Harries, marketing director for Kansas Wheat, says the state has two very different crops. Extreme western crops are suffering from an ongoing drought, while fields are faring better in more eastern sections of the state.


Kansas Pilot Injured in Ultralight Plane Crash

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A small airplane crashed in northeast Kansas, and its pilot was taken by helicopter to an area hospital with serious injuries. Kansas Highway Patrol spokesman Casey Simoneau says the pilot took off from a private residence in an ultralight aircraft around 12:40 pm Wednesday, lost control of the plane and crashed into a tree. The plane went down in Douglas County, southeast of Lawrence. Simoneau says the pilot was taken to the University of Kansas Medical Center, and was in serious condition.

Kansas Awards 'Green' Grants to 27 Public Schools

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has awarded grants totaling nearly $83,000 to 27 of the state's public schools for recycling-related projects. The department the grants were awarded for the next school year and will help pay for recycling bins, composting programs, programs for handling cafeteria waste and field trips to recycling centers. The grants are financed with a state fee of $1 on each ton of waste at a landfill. The six schools receiving the largest grants of $4,500 each were: Erie High School, Hoisington Middle School, Rose Hill High School, Briarwood Elementary School in Prairie Village, Brookwood Elementary School in Leawood and Wyandotte High School in Kansas City.

Leavenworth Woman Pleads to Leaving Baby in Alley

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A 28-year-old Leavenworth woman who left her baby alone in an alley pleaded no contest to endangering a child and drug charges. Prosecutors say Elizabeth A. Michaud entered the pleas Wednesday to aggravated endangering a child and two drug charges arising from other cases. Michaud's 7-week-old son was left sitting alone in a stroller in May 2012. The Leavenworth Times reports that officers who responded to a report of a missing child found Michaud crying and saying she needed to find her baby. She wasn't able to provide any information while officers searched for the baby. Another woman found the baby about three hours after he was reported missing. Michaud will be sentenced May 31.


State of Missouri Releases Records in Abuse Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ten months after a newspaper requested the information, Missouri officials have provided records in the case of a Kansas City girl who was found malnourished and locked in a closet. The Kansas City Star reports that it received hundreds of pages of records Thursday on compact disc from the Missouri Department of Social Services. The documents include medical information from Children's Mercy Hospital about the girl known as LP, who was treated there after being rescued from the closet in late June. A caseworker and police officer found the then-10-year-old in the closet amid her own urine and feces and weighing just 32 pounds. She told authorities she wasn't allowed to eat some days, and on others she had to eat in the closet or behind a couch.

Independence Man Charged with Sex Crimes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 31-year-old Independence man faces several charges accusing him of sex crimes involving a 12-year-old. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor's office says in a release that Morgan Lee Littleton is charged in Jackson County Circuit Court with four counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and four counts of second-degree domestic assault. Court records say Littleton is accused of having deviate sexual intercourse with the 12-year-old child on numerous occasions in the past six months and that some of the assaults had been videotaped. Court documents show that Littleton has denied the allegations.

KC Man Accused in Deaths of 2 During Drug Deal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An 18-year-old Kansas City man has been charged in the shooting deaths of two people in what authorities say started out as a drug deal. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor Jean Peters Baker on Wednesday announced two second-degree murder and two armed criminal action charges against Glenn Pulluaim II in the Jan. 28 slayings of Brian Cunningham and Therman Lacy III. Prosecutors say Pulluaim, another man and a woman arranged to buy marijuana from two people in a car. Pulluaim is accused shooting one of the victims, while witnesses say the other man shot both victims. A spokesman for the prosecutor's office says Pulluaim hasn't appeared in court and it didn't appear that he had obtained an attorney as of late Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutors have requested a $500,000 cash bond.


Insect Pest Poses Threat to West Nebraska Grapes

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — A beetle that's partial to grapes has surfaced in western Nebraska and poses a threat to grape growers. The North Platte Telegraph reports that green June beetles were found in Lincoln County, Nebraska. Dave Boxler is an entomologist for the West Central Research and Extension Center, and he says the bugs like sugars such as those in tree sap and overripe fruit — especially grapes. Boxler says the beetles can ruin a crop because they eat and defecate on the fruit. The bugs are native to the eastern and southern parts of the U.S. and common in Oklahoma and Kansas. Boxler says experts think the bugs are moving north and west because of warmer conditions and milder winters over the past 10 years.


Rays-Royals Game Postponed Due to Snow in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals' game against the Tampa Bay Rays was postponed on Thursday after heavy rain turned to sleet and snow during the middle of the fourth inning. No makeup date has been set. The Rays don't return to Kansas City again this season. The temperature was 41 degrees with winds gusting to 31 mph and rain just beginning to fall when the Royals' Ervin Santana threw the first pitch. The conditions continued to deteriorate as some of the players, dressed in stocking caps and gloves, ran in place to stay warm. When snow starting to fall, the creative team operating Kauffman Stadium played the Yule Log on the massive video screen in center field and the  song "Let It Snow" on the loudspeakers. The game was delayed 2 hours, 20 minutes when the umpires finally called it off for the day.


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