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Regional Headlines for Thursday, November 1, 2012


KS Taxes $37M Short of Expectations for October

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says Kansas collected $37 million less in taxes than anticipated in October, but officials think the shortfall will be temporary.  The Department of Revenue reports that the state took in almost $477 million during the month. That's about 7 percent less than the $514 million officials had expected.  So far in the fiscal year that began July 1st, the state has collected slightly than $2 billion — roughly $22 million short of expectations.  Revenue Department spokeswoman Jeanine Koranda says most of the shortfall was due to October having only two collection periods. There were three in October of last year.  Koranda says officials expect tax collections to bounce back in November.


Hutchinson Man Dies after Halloween Shooting

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson police say a 26-year-old man died after being shot outside a Halloween party.  The victim, Dustin Brooks, was shot yesterday (WED) in an alley near a home where the party was held. He was driven to a fire station, where emergency responders took him to a hospital.  Police say Brooks died at the hospital.  The investigation continues. No one has been arrested. 


Father Gets Life in Prison for Sexually Abusing 4-Year-Old Daughter

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A northeastern Kansas man has been sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing his 4-year-old daughter.  Jackson County Attorney Shawna Miller announced in a news release Wednesday that the man was sentenced late last week.  Miller says the 34-year-old man was on probation after being convicted of crimes against the girl when he confessed to sexual crimes that had not been discovered.  He was charged with aggravated criminal sodomy after sheriff's detectives corroborated his confession. He pleaded no contest in September.  The man will not be eligible for parole for 25 years and will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.  The Associated Press is not naming the man to protect the identity of his daughter.


CEO Alan Mulally to Stay on at Ford through 2014

DETROIT (AP) — Ford CEO Alan Mulally will lead the company at least through 2014, but it's now clear who will succeed him.  The 67-year-old Mulally grew up in Lawrence, where his mother still lives.  Mulally is highly respected at Ford for saving the company from financial collapse. Shortly after he was hired away from Boeing in 2006, he mortgaged all of Ford's assets for a huge loan. The $23.5 billion loan paid for a restructuring and helped keep Ford out of bankruptcy protection.  It's unclear, exactly, when Mulally will step down as CEO.  "Whatever happens, Alan is here two more years, but we could go longer," Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said on a conference call.


Liberal Woman Gets 15 Years for Producing Child Porn

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A southwest Kansas woman who persuaded two teenage girls to pose nude for photographs is going to prison for producing child pornography.  The U.S. Attorney's office says 42-year-old Rebecca Jo Tull, of Liberal, will have to register as a sex offender after completing her 15-year term.  Court records show U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren sentenced Tull on Tuesday, giving her the minimum term under federal guidelines.  Tull pleaded guilty in August to two counts. She admitted photographing the girls in 2008 and sending the images by computer to a person in Michigan. The Hutchinson News reports the girls were 15 and 17 years old at the time.


Topeka Murder Trial Postponed; Prosecutors Say Son Killed Mom

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The trial of a Topeka man charged with killing his mother is postponed until next May.  The trial of 38-year-old Jason Hachmeister was scheduled to start in December. It's now been
postponed until May at the request of defense attorney Mark Bennett.  Hachmeister is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the September 2011 strangulation death of 58-year-old Sheila Hachmeister.  Jason Hachmeister called 911 to say he had found his mother's body on the floor of her home in Topeka. He was arrested in December after his DNA was allegedly found on a ligature around his mother's neck.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Jason Hachmeister was a beneficiary of a $125,000 life insurance policy on his mother.


KC's Hereford House Restaurant Owner Guilty of Arson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A prominent Kansas City restaurant owner and two co-defendants have been found guilty of conspiring to burn down the Hereford House four years ago.  The Kansas City Star reports that a federal jury found 59-year-old Rod Anderson guilty yesterday (WED) of conspiracy, arson, mail fraud and using fire to commit a federal crime.  Anderson, part owner of the restaurant, was named Restaurateur of the Year in 1997 and received the Hospitality Leadership Award from the Hotel and Motel Association of Greater Kansas City in 2001.  Jurors convicted 58-year-old Vincent Pisciotta and 46-year-old Mark Sorrentino of the same charges as Anderson except mail fraud.  Prosecutors said competition in 2008 from new restaurants in the Power and Light District threatened the restaurant, and the men burned it down for insurance money.


New Lawrence Power Plant Will Start Working Friday

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Owners of a new $25 million hydroelectric power plant in Lawrence say the plant is expecting to begin producing electricity as early as tomorrow (FRI).  Leaders with the Bowersock Mills & Power Company say the plant on the Kansas River will start operating about a month ahead of schedule. They say the summer drought allowed construction to proceed with few disruptions.  However, The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the reduced water levels in the Kansas River mean the plant will not be able to produce electricity at full capacity right away. It will eventually generate enough electricity to power about 5,400 homes.  The plant will sell its electricity to the Kansas City, Kansas Board of Public Utilities.


KS Voters to Decide Whether to Retain Judges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters will decide whether to keep a state Supreme Court justice and five appellate judges during Tuesday's election. Members of both courts are appointed by the governor and face retention votes.


Kobach to Predict KS Voter Turnout

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is predicting 68 percent voter turnout in Tuesday's elections. Kobach offered the forecast Thursday. It would be the smallest percentage of Kansas voters casting ballots in a general election since 2000, when turnout was 67 percent. Kobach notes that 2000 was the last presidential election year in which Kansas had no statewide races. Seventy-two percent of Kansas voters cast ballots in 2008. All four of the state's U.S. House members are seeking re-election this year, but only the 2nd District and 4th District have contested races. All 125 seats in the Kansas House and all 40 in the state Senate are being contested. Five of the 10 seats on the State Board of Education are on the ballot, but only three are contested.


Bank Exec's 2011 Killing Remains Unsolved

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The reward now stands at slightly more than $23,000 for information leading to an arrest in last year's killing of a Wichita banker.  An adult son found 61-year-old Timothy McGuigan shot to death in the living room of his Wichita home on September 7th, 2011. He was last seen alive working in his yard the previous evening.  The Wichita Eagle reports an anonymous donor added $2000 this week to the reward fund. McGuigan's daughter and son and a business executive group called Wagonmasters recently added $5,000 each.  McGuigan worked for Kansas State Bank as a senior vice president. Police said robbery did not appear to be a motive in the crime, and McGuigan may have known the killer because there was no sign of forced entry.


Salina Gets Massive New Sculpture

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina has installed a massive new stainless steel sculpture along a busy city corridor.  The sculpture was designed by Arizona-based artist Barbara Grygutis and is called "Dawn's Silver Lining." It's made up of six pieces of steel, each standing 20 feet tall and weighing 2,500 pounds.  The Salina Journal reports that the sculpture was installed and hooked up to power Tuesday south of an expanding intersection. The sculpture will be illuminated at night.  City commissioners voted in 2010 to spend about $246,000 for the sculpture, then approved an additional $53,000 this year to build a foundation for the piece.  The sculpture was fabricated by Industrial Stainless International, based in New Mexico.  The artist plans to attend a dedication ceremony this (THUR) evening near the sculpture.


Groups Mark Inaugural National Bison Day Thursday

DENVER (AP) — The first National Bison Day is taking place today (THUR).  The Colorado-based National Bison Association, the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and the South Dakota-based Intertribal Buffalo Council agreed earlier this year to designate the first Thursday of each November as National Bison Day.  The day is giving the groups another chance to promote efforts in Congress to designate the bison as the national mammal of the United States. Lawmakers from Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Rhode Island have given support to a bill that would make the designation, which would give the animal more recognition rather than any extra protection.


GOP Suggests it Might Lose Seats in Kansas House

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republicans say Tuesday's elections could cost them a few seats in the Kansas House and reduce the influence of the chamber's GOP conservatives. Several Republicans said Thursday this year's redrawing of political district boundaries appears to have hurt the GOP in some places, especially in the Wichita area. And Gov. Sam Brownback said he doesn't know how much power his fellow conservatives will have after Tuesday's voting. Republicans now hold a 92-33 majority in the House. The powerful Kansas Chamber of Commerce counts 76 as conservatives. Meanwhile, some Democrats questioned whether Republicans are hoping to lower expectations for Tuesday's outcome so the GOP can claim victory even if it loses a few seats. State Democratic Chairwoman Joan Wagnon won't predict the future balance of power in the House.


Sandy's Fallout Skips Drought-Plagued Midwest

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Drought-plagued Midwest farming states got little benefit from the massive storm that pounded the Eastern Seaboard this week, although the nation's worst drought in decades appears to be easing in some areas. The U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly update posted Thursday shows that 60 percent of the land in the lower 48 states is experiencing some degree of drought as of Tuesday. That's down nearly 2 percentage points, taking into account much of Sandy's fallout. Dry conditions continued easing in Iowa, North Dakota and Illinois, although far too late to help the corn and soybean crops, which are nearly completely harvested. The federal government says 88 percent of this year's winter wheat crop had been planted as of Monday. That's 3 percentage points ahead of the five-year average.




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