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Regional Headlines for Thursday, November 29, 2012

 

KPR-News-Summary

UPDATE: Kansas Vote Certified Amid Debate on Voter ID Law 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials have certified the results of this month's general election amid a debate over a law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. The Board of Canvassers met briefly Thursday and unanimously approved figures provided by county election officials. The board consists of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Governor Sam Brownback, who sent his chief counsel. Kobach defended the state's photo ID law, noting that 838 Kansans cast provisional ballots because they lacked the proper ID at the polls November 6. That's out of 1.18 million voters who cast ballots. Critics note that Kobach pushed the law as a way to combat election fraud. Kobach acknowledged Thursday that his office has received no reports of potential election fraud yet this year.

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Reward Offered to Catch Suspected Arsonist

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A federal agency is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to arrests in more than a dozen suspicious fires in Lawrence.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering the reward to help the investigation of fires that have been set in and around apartment buildings in south Lawrence since October 19.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports most of the fires were set in laundry rooms or hallways near unlocked exterior doors. Fire officials say they suspect the fires have been intentionally set, but have not released any more information.

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Legislator Concerned About Overtime Expenditures at Kansas Juvenile Center

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state senator is raising concerns about the overtime logged by workers at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka because of staff shortages. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Thursday that employees of the juvenile prison worked more than 14,500 hours of overtime from July to November. Republican Senator Pete Brungardt, of Salina, says the problem is related to the state budget and the inability to hire enough staff to cover duties. Terri Williams, the acting commissioner of the Juvenile Justice Authority, told lawmakers the agency has struggled to retain current staff and find enough qualified applicants who can pass background checks to fill 17 vacancies. A posting on the state website for job vacancies says the starting wage for juvenile corrections officers is $13.61 an hour.

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UPDATE: Tiny Missouri Town Abuzz over Sale of Winning Powerball Ticket 

DEARBORN, Mo. (AP) — There's no word yet on who's holding the winning tickets from last night's Powerball drawing, but lottery officials have identified the stores where they were purchased. One is 4 Sons Food Store in Fountain Hills, Arizona, and the other is the Trex Mart, off Interstate 29 near Dearborn, Missouri, about a half an hour north of Kansas City. The stores get a $50,000 bounty for selling a winning ticket, and Trex Mart's general manager says the store owner is talking about using it to give the staff Christmas bonuses. The store sold about $27,000 worth of tickets in the days leading up to the drawing. The cashiers have been greeting customers with big smiles today, asking them whether they had bought the winner. Kristi Williams calls it "just awesome" and says she's hoping it's one of the store's regular ticket buyers. The winners will split the $587.5 million payout. They could each take a lump sum payment of about $192 million, before taxes.

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2 School Buses Collide Near Wichita

GODDARD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in Sedgwick County say a collision involving two school buses and a car west of Wichita left several people with minor injuries. The sheriff's department says the accident happened shortly after 4 pm Thursday in Goddard. Details of the collision weren't immediately clear, but no one was sent to the hospital. The Goddard school district says the buses were carrying elementary school students. Paramedics checked about a dozen people at the scene.

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State Agency Working on Bill to Reduce Sex Trafficking 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State officials say they are working with law enforcement on legislation designed to reduce sex trafficking of teenagers and increase penalties for those who entice the children into the industry. A Kansas Department for Children and Families official said Wednesday the legislation will emphasize that children in the sex trade are victims, not criminals. Anna Pilato, a deputy secretary in the department, told child care workers in Wichita that Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office, law enforcement agencies and judges are collaborating on the legislation. The Wichita Eagle reports DCF's role will be to ensure the minors involved in the sex industry get the help they need. The agency also is working to determine the scope of the problem in Kansas.

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Lawrence Hospital Seeking Trauma Center Designation

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence Memorial Hospital wants to be designated to treat lower-level trauma patients. The hospital's board of trustees voted Wednesday to start the process leading to a designation as a Level 4 trauma center, a level recently created by the state health department. Level 4 gives emergency responders the option to send patients to Lawrence Memorial to be stabilized before being sent to other hospitals. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that people who suffer serious injuries in accidents in Douglas County currently are sent to hospitals in Kansas City, Kansas, Overland Park and Topeka. Eventually, the Lawrence hospital would seek a Level 3 designation, which would allow the hospital to treat some trauma cases.

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Social Media Eyed as Tool to Curb Spread of Diseases

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A research team at Kansas State University is looking at the usefulness of social media in curbing the spread of infectious diseases. The researchers are studying whether a well-timed post from a public authority or trusted person could help as much as flu shots, hand-washing or sneezing into an elbow. Researchers are gathering information about human behavior and identifying the various groups such as teachers or public officials that need to be reached through social media. They're also exploring the best way of distributing information using social media. Some findings are expected to be presented next month at a scientific conference. The results suggest that not only vaccinating critical individuals but also facilitating the spread of health information helps suppress infectious diseases.

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30 Years Later, Kansas Man Still Waiting in Texas Prison for Retrial

HOUSTON (AP) — A Kansas man who remains in a Texas prison more than 30 years after his murder conviction was overturned has become the subject of a fight between the state, which insists he's being legally held, and a federal appeals court that says he's wrongly imprisoned. Jerry Hartfield's murder conviction was overturned in 1983, and the governor commuted his death sentence to life in prison 11 days later. Hartfield's case didn't receive more attention until 2006, when he filed a handwritten motion saying his constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated because he hadn't been retried. A new trial doesn't seem close. On Wednesday, a federal appeals court sent his case back to the state appeals court, where it is likely to be tied up longer.

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Justice Dept. Seeks Answers from Kansas Anti-Abortion Activist

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to order a Kansas anti-abortion activist to answer questions about her relationship with the convicted murderer of abortion provider George Tiller. The department also wants to compel Angel Dillard to admit she made statements to The Associated Press in which she said she admired Tiller's killer. The Justice Department has accused Dillard of sending a threatening letter to a Wichita doctor who was training to offer abortions. A federal magistrate on Thursday extended until Dec. 5 the deadline for the defense to file a response to the Justice Department's request. The government has argued the relationship and Dillard's public statements are related to the letter she sent. Dillard contends the demands violate her First Amendment freedoms.

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Ugly Sweater Run Set for Downtown Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — It's time to pull out those rhinestone-covered Christmas sweaters and — if possible — grow a mustache. A 5K race called the Ugly Sweater Run takes place at 2 pm Saturday in downtown Lawrence. Near the starting line at Watson Park there will be snow machines, "reindeer games," and holiday music. Hot chocolate will flow freely during the race. After the run, there will be awards for things like the best mustache and sweater. Adult beverages also will be available. Participants are urged to bring a toy to donate to Toys for Tots.

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Rove Not Optimistic about Avoiding 'Fiscal Cliff'

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Republican political strategist Karl Rove says he's not optimistic the nation will avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. But Rove told the more than 600 cattle producers attending the Kansas Livestock Association's 100th convention Wednesday that he is still optimistic that the country will ultimately resolve the deficit problem. He says the nation is losing sight of the bigger issue of getting the economy growing again. Responding to an audience question, Rove told the Wichita crowd that social issues are not responsible for splitting the Republican Party. He says intolerance and judgmental language is what is splintering the GOP. The Republican strategist also says the party needs to take a practical approach to immigration reform that requires illegal immigrants to pay a penalty.

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KC-Based Electric Vehicle Maker to Open Plant in Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) — A company that makes commercial vehicles powered entirely by electricity for FedEx, Coca-Cola, DHL and other corporations is opening a manufacturing plant in Chicago. The new Smith Electric Vehicles Corporation plant is expected to create hundreds of jobs and boost the city's growing battery and electric vehicle sector. Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed the company's decision and praised Smith as an innovative player in an industry that will be an important part of Chicago's future. The city has a $15 million incentive program designed to encourage the conversion of commercial vehicle fleets from diesel to all-electric, zero-emission vehicles. Smith is based in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Kansas Trucker Charged in Nebraska Crash Death

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) — A Kansas truck driver has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a fatal crash in south-central Nebraska. The Hastings Tribune reports that 46-year-old Victor Allende was arrested Sunday in Kansas. Online court records say he's bonded out of jail. Allende, of Great Bend, declined to comment on Thursday. Court records don't list the name of his attorney. A court affidavit says Allende was eastbound on U.S. Highway 6 east of Hastings on April 24 and was following too closely behind another truck when the other truck stopped for a train crossing. The affidavit says Allende's semi rammed the other truck, pushing it into the path of an oncoming pickup driven by 52-year-old Neal Sahling. Sahling, of Wood River, Nebraska, was killed.

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Judge to Rule on Expert Witness in Sex Slave Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge says he doesn't think Missouri's Western District is the right place to define what is considered normal within the kinky sex community. U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple on Thursday heard arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys for a southwest Missouri couple accused of keeping a woman as a sex slave for several years. Lawyers for 45-year-old Edward Bagley and 47-year-old Marilyn Bagley want to bring an expert witness to the couple's trial in February to explain about the bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism lifestyle. Whipple was surprised when told evidence in the case includes photographs. He was even more taken aback when defense attorney Susan Dill told him her expert witness takes part in BDSM activities. The judge said he needed to do more research before ruling.

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K-State Prepares to Give Seniors Send-Off

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Ryan Doerr remembers when he was a redshirt freshman, and Bill Snyder was returning to the sidelines at Kansas State. The senior punter remembers thinking they had a chance to be part of something really spectacular. Fast forward four years and the number 7-ranked Wildcats are preparing for their season finale against number 23-ranked Texas. If they win, they're assured of at least a share of the Big 12 title and the league's automatic berth to a BCS bowl game. They've come a long way from the days of Ron Prince, when they won just five times, helping to re-establish a program that Snyder built from the ground up during the 1990s.

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Ex-NFL Player to Give KSU December Commencement Speech

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas State football captain Nick Leckey is graduating and speaking at the university's December commencement nine years after leaving for the NFL without a degree. Leckey earned a Super Bowl ring in 2009 as a center with the New Orleans Saints. He also played for the Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams. But he remained 46 credits short of the college degree he'd promised his mother and his aunt he would finish. After leaving pro football and moving from Phoenix to Kansas City, he began taking classes at Kansas State as a distance student. Now, he's about to receive a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management. Leckey also will give the student commencement address on December 8th for the College of Human Ecology.

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Former Pro Football Players, Army Leaders Discuss Head Injuries

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas City Chiefs players and Army leaders say a change in culture about the risks of concussions is possible but must start at the top levels in sports and the military. The comments came during a forum Wednesday at Fort Leavenworth on traumatic brain injuries. Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Willie Lanier said he learned the lessons early on. Lanier, who played from 1967 through 1977, serves on an NFL player safety panel studying ways to make the game safer. Lanier suffered numerous concussions in rookie season including one that didn't manifest until a week later. Lanier says he changed his playing technique as a result. The military has been looking at the impact of traumatic brain injuries as soldiers return from combat.

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Missouri AG says KC Wedding Planner Didn't Provide Service

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City wedding planner is accused of not providing services he had promised to couples, including not even showing up at some weddings. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced Thursday that he had charged 29-year-old Mario Antoine with 10 felony counts of stealing by deceit and unlawful merchandising practices. Antoine and his company, Imagine Photo KC, are accused of not delivering on promises to Kansas City-area couples to provide such services as photographs, limousines and disc jockeys. Prosecutors say he either didn't show up at the weddings or didn't provide all the services — and then refused to provide refunds. Antoine's bond is set at $25,000. Online court records do not indicate if Antoine has an attorney.

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K-State Defensive Players Among 4 Finalists for Lott Trophy

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Georgia's Jarvis Jones, Manti Te'o of Notre Dame, Stanford's Chase Thomas and Arthur Brown of Kansas State are the finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, given to the collegiate defensive player having the biggest impact on his team. The winner of the award named for Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott will be announced on December 9. Each of the finalists was recommended by their schools for their strong academic work, community involvement and team leadership. The winner's school will receive $25,000 for its general scholarship fund. Luke Kuechly of Boston College was last year's winner.

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Chiefs Rise Up, Fall Down to Level of Opponent

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have been something of a rollercoaster this season, though not in terms of wins and losses. They've been quite consistent at losing. It's their performance that's been uneven, and it's often been dictated by their opponent. When the Chiefs (1-10) have played one of the league's top teams, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers or Denver Broncos, a haphazard team that's lost eight consecutive games rises to the occasion. When they follow up with a game against a downtrodden team, though, the results are fairly predictable. They've lost, and lost badly. Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel says it's something he's addressed with his team, as the Carolina Panthers (3-8) head to town on Sunday.

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Someone in Missouri Wins Share of $579.9 Million Jackpot

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Powerball officials say this week's record jackpot has been won. Early Thursday morning officials confirmed that two winning tickets were sold: One in Arizona and one in Missouri. An additional 8,924,123 players won smaller prizes. The numbers drawn Wednesday night are: 5, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6. A lottery official said late Wednesday that the jackpot increased to $579.9 million by the time of the drawing, making the cash option $379.8 million. The drawing for Wednesday night's prize followed 16 consecutive drawings that produced no top winner.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 

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Winning MO Powerball Ticket Sold Around 35 Miles North of KC

DEARBORN, Mo. (AP) — It's likely that the purchase of the multimillion Powerball ticket is the biggest thing to happen in a long time in the northwest Missouri town where the lucky ticket was sold. Missouri Lottery officials said Thursday that someone bought the ticket at a Trex Mart convenience store in Dearborn, a town of about 500 people. It sits about 35 miles north of Kansas City, mostly in Platte County, with a small sliver in Buchanan County. Lottery officials were gathering Thursday morning at the Trex Mart to help handle what was expected to be a flood of media into the small town. The winner, or winners, in Missouri will split the record $587.5 million jackpot with another winner in Arizona.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 

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Kansas Officials to Certify Election Results

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are preparing to certify results from this month's general election. The State Board of Canvassers scheduled a meeting Thursday afternoon to review totals from races for congressional, legislative and other state offices. The board is led by Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Governor Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt also are members, though they can send representatives rather than attending themselves. All are Republicans. The meeting comes amid a debate over a new Kansas law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Critics contend the law suppresses turnout. But Kobach has reported that only about 700 people were required to cast provisional ballots because they went to the polls November 6 without valid i.d. That's out of more than 1.1 million Kansans who participated.

**this story has been updated. Please see above.

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