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Regional Headlines for Thursday, Oct 24, 2013


KU Prof Suspended for Tweet Won't Return to Class in 2013

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A journalism professor suspended over a tweet that referenced the National Rifle Association after the Navy Yard shootings will not return to his University of Kansas classroom in 2013. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little announced Thursday that David Guth, who was placed on administrative leave September 20, would not teach the rest of this semester and would take a planned sabbatical in the spring. Teaching assignments for the fall of 2014 are not yet set. Guth posted the tweet after the September shootings killed 13 people in Washington, D.C. It said, "The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you." Phone and email messages left with Guth seeking comment weren't immediately returned.


KS Gov Calls for a '50-Year Vision' on Water at Summit Meeting

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ Governor Sam Brownback has ordered five state agencies and a council of economic advisers to begin work on what he's calling a "50-year vision'' for water policy in Kansas. Brownback announced Thursday that he's directed the agencies and his economic advisers to deliver their blueprint for long-term water policy by November 1, 2014. The governor announced his actions at the start of a two-day conference in Manhattan on water issues. Brownback says the persistent drought in the western half of the state shows the importance of water to the Kansas economy. He directed the Kansas Water Office and its planning counterpart, the Water Authority, to work on the 50-year vision, along with the state departments of Agriculture, Health and Environment, and Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.


Conference Examines Impact of Kansas Tax Changes

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Leaders of urban and rural local governments say they are starting to see the impact of recent changes in the Kansas tax structure, putting more pressure on property and sales taxes to maintain levels of service. The comments Thursday from the county manager in Johnson County and the Salina city manager were part of a conference at the University of Kansas. Kansas has cut individual income tax rates and eliminated taxes for nearly 200,000 businesses during the past two years. Republican Governor Sam Brownback pushed for the changes. Local officials say they have wrung out as much as they can from their governments as the state pushes more responsibilities for funding and providing those services on them. The event was sponsored by the Institute for Social and Policy Research.


KS Agency to Spend $15K for Golf Tournament

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A state agency is spending $15,000 for a PGA Tour event despite concerns about allocating scarce state resources for a sporting event. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has joined with other sponsors to build a financial foundation to keep the Air Capital Classic in Wichita for the next three years. Senator Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat and ranking minority member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, says it's "shameless" that the state is subsidizing a golf event when it's cutting food subsidies for low-income children. Secretary Robin Jennison defends the decision, saying the golf event puts Kansas "in a very good light," and he says he'll also consider proposals to keep a 2014 amateur golf tournament in Newton.

KS Anti-Human Trafficking Board to Meet

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the state's official anti-human trafficking group is meeting for the first time this week in its newly minted role. The Kansas Human Trafficking Advisory Board was recognized in a new law passed earlier this year as the state's official group dedicated to fighting human trafficking. It was first organized in January 2010 as the Attorney General's Human Trafficking Advisory Board. The board will meet at 1:30 pm Friday at the Department for Children and Families Learning Center in Topeka. Members include representatives of the governor's office, attorney general's office, cabinet agencies, law enforcement and social service organizations.


Recall Tied to KS Food Production Plant Prompts Federal Tracking

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal officials are watching for possible reports of illnesses linked to packaged foods from a plant in Kansas that have been recalled over concerns about potential Listeria contamination. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that it is monitoring for potential cases and working with both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Officials were not reporting any illnesses, however. Oregon-based Reser's Fine Foods is recalling 109,000 cases of refrigerated, ready-to-eat items distributed in the U.S. and Canada. The items include cole slaw and potato salad, as well as products with beef, chicken and ham. Company President Mark Reser said in a statement that it is focusing on testing and food-handling procedures.


KS Students' Test Scores Shine in Global Comparison

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new comparison of science and math scores released Thursday puts Kansas students in the upper half of the achievement range in both subjects, but below the accomplishments of counterparts in Massachusetts and Southeast Asia. The report released Thursday compared the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress from every state with performance in numerous other countries on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. Scores were based on a 1,000-point scale. Kansas tied with Alaska and Wyoming in math with a score of 524. Massachusetts was the top U.S. state at 561, ranking behind South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. In science, Kansas scored 534, one point better than students in Britain and Hungary. Massachusetts was the top U.S. state in that subject.


Girl, 5, Killed in Dickinson County Accident

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — Dickinson County authorities say a 5-year-old girl has died in a farming accident. The Salina Journal reports that the girl, who was from rural Abilene, died in the accident Wednesday. Sheriff Gareth Hoffman says emergency responders were called to a soybean field in northern Dickinson County on Wednesday evening. He says the child, Brooklyn Debenham, had been riding in the cab of the combine with her father when the combine hit a bump or some obstacle. He says the combine's windshield shattered, and the child fell through the glass and landed on the machine's header. Hoffman says the child died in the field.


Topeka Zoo Gets New Giraffe

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka Zoo has a new male giraffe the zoo hopes will breed with one its other giraffes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the new giraffe, Sergeant Peppers, was brought in Wednesday. He was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo, where spokeswoman Tara Henson says he was somewhat cautious but very popular with visitors. Topeka Zoo director Brendan Wiley says Sergeant Peppers will live with the zoo's three other giraffes: a 29-year-old female named "Dolly," a 23-year-old male named "Jesse" and a 3-year-old female named "Hope." Zoo officials hope Sergeant Peppers and Hope will breed as part of a pairing recommended by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' giraffe population management group. Male and female giraffes begin breeding at age 2.


Fort Leavenworth MP Unit Heading to Afghanistan

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Leavenworth military police company is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan for a mission to conduct detainee operations and training. The Army says about 120 soldiers with the 291st Military Police Company, 40th MP Battalion will hold a deployment ceremony Friday at the northeast Kansas post. The unit received its orders to deploy in March and started training for the mission in June. The training included language and culture awareness, as well as internment and resettlement exercises. In Afghanistan, the soldiers will spend about a year conducting detainee operations and training Afghan army soldiers.

Husband Sentenced to Life for Topeka Woman's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife in 2012. Manuel Alcala was the second defendant to be sentenced Thursday for charges tied to the October 18, 2012, murder of 34-year-old Ashley Alcala at her Topeka home. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Manuel Alcala's mother, Manuela Alcala, was also sentenced Thursday to two years and six months in prison for obstruction and other charges. She was then placed on probation for 18 months. Sentencing for the third defendant, Gabino Alcala, was postponed until November 5 because attorneys needed more time to discuss the case. Gabino Alcala is the brother of Manuel Alcala and son of Manuela Alcala.


Salina Woman Accused of Craigslist Scam

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina woman is accused of scamming sellers on Craigslist by sending fake money orders for purchases. The Salina Journal  reports the 51-year-old woman was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of multiple felonies. Police Lieutenant Jim Norton says an investigation turned up at least eight victims with total losses of more than $5,000. The victims had advertised items for sale on Craigslist, including a guitar, silverware set, an electric dryer and a set of animal traps. Norton says investigators seized a stack of fake Western Union MoneyGrams made out for $975 each from the suspect's apartment. Authorities believe the woman would send the seller a fake MoneyGrams and then make calls seeking repayment by claiming an assistant had sent the wrong one. The victims wired back money.


Wichita Man's Panic Button Scares Off Intruders

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita man says the panic button on his medical alert device saved him from two intruders who demanded to buy his prescription pain pills. KFDI-FM reports the incident happened around 8 pm Wednesday. The 57-year-old man told police he recognized a 30-year-old woman who came to his door, but not the man who was with her. The man says he pushed the woman away when she tried to hug him. At that point, he says, the male intruder knocked him down, used a stun gun on him and tried to force him to sell some of his prescription painkillers. Police say the couple fled when the victim pressed a panic button that goes to a medical alert business, which then called 911.


Trial for KS Commune Leader Set for March

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The leader of a Kansas group accused of living off life insurance payouts on its dead members is scheduled to go on trial in five months in a woman's death. The Wichita Eagle reports that a Sedgwick County judge on Wednesday rescheduled the trial of 53-year-old Daniel U. Perez for March 31. Perez is charged with murder in the 2003 death of Patricia Hughes at the group's compound near Wichita. The 26-year-old woman was initially believed to have accidentally drowned while trying to rescue her 2-year-old daughter from the pool. Perez also faces charges of rape, sodomy and sexual exploitation of a child. Defense lawyers have argued that there's not enough evidence to put Perez on trial.

Ex-Cadets Drop Claims Against Church Entities

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former cadets alleging abuse at a Kansas military boarding school have dropped their claims against two religious entities associated with the school. Court documents filed this week show the former cadets from St. John's Military School in Salina have agreed to dismiss the Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas from their federal lawsuit. Also dropped as a defendant is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The dismissal stipulation is with prejudice, meaning the claims cannot be refiled. The filing does not indicate whether an out-of-court settlement had been reached. St. John's Military School remains the sole defendant. The 11 former cadets allege the school encouraged higher-ranking students to discipline younger ones, leading to abuse. Trial is set for March.


KC Attorney to Represent Man Accused in Teen Sexual Assault Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A prominent Kansas City defense attorney has been hired to represent a northwest Missouri man at the center of a teen sexual assault case that has gained worldwide attention because of the way it was handled. J.R. Hobbs confirmed Thursday that he will assist the Maryville native who was 17 in January 2012 when a 14-year-old girl claimed he plied her with alcohol and sexually assaulted her. Daisy Coleman says justice was not served when Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice dismissed felony charges against the boy and a second 17-year-old accused of recording the incident on his cellphone. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecuting attorney Jean Peters Baker was appointed Monday as special prosecutor in the case and will decide whether evidence supports refiling of charges.


Quick Decision Sought in Kansas Abortion Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Planned Parenthood and the state of Kansas have filed competing requests with a federal judge for a quick resolution of the organization's lawsuit against a new abortion restriction. Planned Parenthood is challenging a requirement that abortion providers' website home pages link to a state site on abortion and fetal development. The rule says the websites must say the state's information is accurate and objective. The rule took effect in July but isn't being enforced. Planned Parenthood performs abortions at an Overland Park clinic. The state asked U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil this week to uphold the rule without a trial and says it is allowed to order disclosures by medical providers to protect patients. In a filing last month, Planned Parenthood said the requirement violates its free speech rights.

KS, AZ Seek Federal Order on Voter Citizenship Laws

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas and Arizona are asking a court to force a federal agency to quickly modify voter registration forms so the states can fully enforce proof-of-citizenship laws for all new voters. The two states filed a request Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit they filed against the federal Election Assistance Commission and its top staff member. They asked for a hearing by or shortly after November 12th. The states want to force the commission to modify the national mail-in voter registration form to include specific proof-of-citizenship instructions for residents of Kansas and Arizona. Officials of the states argued that they're being forced to create separate registration systems for federal and other elections. The U.S. Justice Department is representing the commission and didn't immediately comment.

Son of Alleged KC Mob Boss Sentenced to Prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A son of an alleged organized crime leader in Kansas City has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. Fifty-nine-year-old Nicholas A. Civella was sentenced Wednesday for being a drug user in possession of a firearm. The Kansas City Star reports that the charge stemmed from the February 2012 police search of Civella's home. Court documents say officers discovered a 9mm handgun, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Authorities said Civella's father, Anthony Civella, had been an organized-crime leader before his 2006 death. Anthony Civella was the son of Carl Civella and nephew of Nick Civella. The Star reported that authorities long alleged that the two men were Kansas City mob leaders.

Contempt Ruling on Hold for Breastfeeding MO Mom

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri judge is waiting for the legislature to act before he decides whether to hold a nursing mother in contempt of court for bringing her infant son for jury duty. The Kansas City Star  reports that Jackson County (Missouri) Presiding Judge Marco Roldan said Thursday he wanted to see if lawmakers will provide a specific jury service exemption for nursing mothers before taking action in the case against Laura Trickle. She says her 7-month-old son doesn't take a bottle and has to be with her to eat. Roldan also decided to refund a $500 fine he assessed against a different nursing mother on Wednesday. He says he will re-impose that fine next year and call Trickle back into court on her contempt issue if the legislature doesn't act.

KS Man Bolts After NV Troopers Find Pot Stash

SPARKS, Nev. (AP) — Nevada Highway Patrol officials say a 25-year-old Kansas man bolted and hasn't been seen since after troopers found three pounds of marijuana in his vehicle. Troopers say a sergeant pulled over a Mitsubishi about 4 pm Tuesday on Interstate 80 near Sparks, Nevada. The sergeant asked the 25-year-old driver, Lonnie Scott Schaefer, for permission to search the vehicle. That's when troopers found the marijuana. Officials say that just as Schaefer was about to be arrested, he fled toward the Truckee River. Authorities launched a manhunt that lasted several hours and included a search helicopter, but Schaefer hasn't been found. Troopers say the Lawrence, Kansas resident was already on parole for a previous robbery conviction in his home state.


Worker Killed in Lee's Summit Trench Collapse

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — A worker who was connecting a sewer line to a Lee's Summit home under construction has died after the trench he was in collapsed and trapped him inside. Lee's Summit Police Sergeant Chris Depue says emergency crews were called at 1:30 pm Thursday to the scene where a 75-foot trench had been dug from the street to the house. Depue says the earth shifted in the trench and collapsed on the worker, while a second worker at the top of the trench was not harmed. Rescue crews tried frantically to dig the victim out before the trench began to collapse again and they shifted to recovery mode. Depue says the man's body is not expected to be pulled out until late Thursday night. His name has not been released.




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