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Regional Headlines for Thursday, October 10, 2013




KS Department of Labor Cancels Worker Furloughs


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's office says the Kansas Department of Labor is ending most of the furloughs imposed on its workers because of the federal government's partial shutdown and won't put others on unpaid leave. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said Thursday that the governor will use the state's cash reserves to maintain staffing for the program that provides benefits to unemployed workers. Most of the department's salaries and operations are financed with federal funds. Last week, it announced it was furloughing 66 employees in various divisions, most of them in Topeka. The department said Thursday that all but seven of them will return to their jobs. And Brownback's office said he directed the department to cancel plans for furloughing another 119 employees Friday so that unemployment checks could still be processed.


Shutdown Spurs KS Protest; KS GOP Delegation Holding Firm

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democrats and liberal activists in Kansas are criticizing Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins over the federal government's partial shutdown. But Jenkins and other members of the state's all-GOP congressional delegation said Wednesday they're looking for President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats to negotiate on budget issues. They also said they won't support increasing the federal debt ceiling without reductions in federal spending. Two dozen activists rallied outside Jenkins's office in Topeka, demanding she work for a House vote on budget and debt ceiling legislation without conditions. Jenkins represents the 2nd District of eastern Kansas but is a member of the House GOP leadership team. She said she's working to resolve financial issues in Washington. The Kansas delegation has voted for multiple measures to fund individual programs.

States Joining Forces to Scrub Voter Rolls

SEATTLE (AP) — State election leaders are working together to scrub their voter rolls of millions of problematic registrations. Half of all states have now joined a consortium anchored by the state of Kansas, compiling their voter registration lists at the end of every year to assess for matches. Meanwhile, seven states are coordinating on another project that makes those assessments more frequently with advanced algorithms while also checking for deceased voters. Election managers say the efforts are necessary, as outdated voter registration systems are unable to keep up with a society where people often move from state to state. This year, the Kansas project identified some 5 million potential duplicate registrations across 22 states. The seven-state project identified hundreds of thousands of registrations that need updating, including 23,000 people who were dead.

Brownback Offers Reward for Info in Southeast KS Crime

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed an executive order offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in a homicide case in southeast Kansas. The governor made the announcement Wednesday, seeking the public's help in locating Kevin Robert Welsh. The 35-year-old Welsh, of Toronto, Kansas, is being sought in connection with the shooting deaths of Keith and Sheila Kriesel, both of Eureka, and the shooting of a third individual on October 2 in Eureka. Welsh is considered armed and dangerous. Greenwood County law enforcement and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation have been searching for Welsh. Authorities say he may still be in Greenwood County. Attorney General Derek Schmidt says his office will take the lead in prosecuting the case.


DOJ Plans to Appeal Kansas Abortion Threat Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Justice Department is challenging a ruling that an abortion opponent's letter to a Wichita doctor saying someone might place an explosive under her car is constitutionally protected speech. The department's Civil Rights Division filed a notice Thursday saying it plans to appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals a federal judge's decision that the letter from Angel Dillard did not constitute a "true threat" under the law. The government sued Dillard in 2011 under a law aimed at protecting access to abortion services. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten decided the case in Dillard's favor amid secret filings. The judge also refused the government's request to unseal court documents. Marten wrote that the government supplied no evidence that actual violence against Dr. Mila Means was likely or imminent.


Jury Finds KS Councilman Engaged in Misconduct

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — A Johnson County jury has found that a suburban Kansas City councilman engaged in misconduct when he let a homeless friend sleep at City Hall last year. The Kansas City Star reports that a jury ruled Wednesday after a three-day civil trial that Prairie Village Councilman David Morrison also willfully neglected to perform his council duties. But jurors determined that he didn't violate state laws against official misconduct, trespassing and theft to a degree that reached "moral turpitude." A district judge can consider the findings in deciding whether Morrison should remain on the city council. A decision is expected soon. Morrison has conceded that he showed poor judgment. His attorney, Tom Bath, says the matter is in the judge's hands and that any other comment would be inappropriate.


5 Kansas Lakes Still Harboring Toxic Algae

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials say five Kansas lakes have dangerous levels of toxic algae. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in a release Thursday high levels of toxic blue-green algae have been detected at Hiawatha City Lake in Brown County, Lake Shawnee in Shawnee County, Lake Warnock in Atchison County, Logan City Lake in Phillips County and Memorial Park Lake in Barton County. The department says a warning means conditions are unsafe, and swimming, wading, skiing or other direct contact with the water are prohibited. The department has also lifted an algae advisory for Mission Lake in Brown County. When animals are exposed to toxic algae they may experience vomiting, diarrhea or even death. Humans can also experience symptoms including rashes, running noses and eye infections.


Turkish Group Claims Credit for Wichita Website Hacking

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Turkish group is claiming responsibility for a cyberattack on the city of Wichita's website. The cyberattack was reported on Internet sites two days before city officials announced it in a news release issued late Monday. Cyber War News says the Turkish Ajan Hacker Group is claiming responsibility. A message purportedly left by the group blames the United States for the chaos in the Middle East. Wichita police told reporters Wednesday it appears a "sophisticated" individual hacked into the system, but they are not commenting about who may be responsible. Authorities say they are trying to pinpoint the exact time hackers got into the system, how they got in, and who they are. The city says hackers had potentially compromised the personal information of 29,000 vendors and employees.


City of Lawrence Seeks Meeting with Tribe

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence city officials are seeking a meeting with members of the Delaware Tribe in order to learn more the tribe's plans for developing a prime piece of area property. City commissioners have told City Manager David Corliss to arrange a meeting with tribal officials in Oklahoma within the next two to three weeks. The city commissioners want to know what the tribe's plans are for developing the North Lawrence property along the Kansas Turnpike. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the tribe bought about 90 acres of farmland along the turnpike this summer. The property is just outside the Lawrence city limits, but any development is likely to affect city property because of stormwater drainage issues. Tribal officials have confirmed they are working to have the land put into federal trust.

Douglas County Approves New Water Plant

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Douglas County has approved a permit for a new water treatment plant despite concerns that the plant could encourage suburban sprawl in southern Douglas County. County commissioners on Wednesday approved the permit request from Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 25 after heated discussion about whether the plant would encourage more residential development in unincorporated rural areas, outside of cities served by municipal water systems. The Lawrence Journal-World reports water district officials say they need additional capacity because of increased demand. Cille King, a Lawrence resident, says the new plant would encourage wasteful consumption of water in rural residential areas. But Commissioner Jim Flory says county regulations control residential development in rural areas, and the county should not interfere by limiting rural residents' access to water.


Feds Hint at New Indictment Against KS Doctor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are objecting to defense motions to dismiss two charges against a Manhattan physician charged with illegally distributing painkillers, suggesting that a new indictment may be forthcoming from a new grand jury. The government's documents were filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in the case against Michael P. Schuster, who was indicted in May by a grand jury. Among the charges he faces are allegations that he signed blank prescription pads that were later used by his staff to give prescriptions to patients, a violation of federal law. The 53-year-old Schuster has been held without bail since the charges were filed. A motions hearing is set for November 4 in Topeka to consider a request from Schuster's attorney to dismiss two of the three charges.


Cerner Proposing $4.3 Billion Development in South KCMO

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Cerner Corporation says it wants to build a $4.3 billion office complex during the next 10 years at the site of a former shopping mall in south Kansas City. The health care technology company says the complex would be built in 14 phases and eventually bring 15,000 jobs to the area. The city's planning and zoning committee on Wednesday approved the company's request for tax incentives for the Three Trails Crossing development. The Kansas City Star reported that the City Council is expected to approve the proposal Thursday. Cerner officials said the complex would include 11 office buildings, a daycare center, two data centers, a service center and 370,000 square feet of retail space. If all goes as planned, the complex is expected to be completed by 2024.


Corn Harvest Above Expectations Due to Weather

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Farmers in many states are surprised at the abundance of corn coming from their fields, and record harvests are likely in many states including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and Ohio. In southeastern Nebraska, farmer Ben Steffen says his first field brought in 168 bushels an acre, above the average of 140. The best crops are in areas with adequate rain and where corn pollinated amid cooler temperatures. The positive surprise is welcome after the dismal harvest for many farmers last year when drought spread across the country reducing corn and soybean crops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates this year's harvest to bring in 13.8 billion bushels of corn, beating the 2009 record of 13.1 billion bushels. Some analysts believe farmers may exceed the estimates.


KS Historical Society Contributes to Civil War Website

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Historical Society has contributed more than 1,600 archival images to a Civil War website. The group said in a news release Wednesday that the "Civil War on the Western Border' website explores the Kansas -Missouri border conflict of 1854 to 1865. It was put together through a joint effort by libraries, museums and historical societies in the two states. Images include photographs, maps, journals and government documents from the territorial and Civil War periods in Kansas. The Kansas City Public Library plans to maintain the website.

Roberts Opposes Obama Nominee for Federal Reserve Chief

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts says he'll oppose President Barack Obama's nomination of the Federal Reserve's vice chairwoman to the chairmanship of the nation's central bank. The Republican senator said Wednesday that the Federal Reserve has pursued what he called "destructive" fiscal policies and said he expects that Janet Yellen would continue them if promoted. Roberts made his comments shortly after the Democratic president nominated Yellen. Yellen is a close ally of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and she's a key architect of the Fed's efforts to keep interest rates near record lows to support the economy. Roberts said those policies have hurt seniors who try to live on their savings and are designed to allow the federal government to borrow money as cheaply as possible.

Court Upholds Denial of Pipeline Injunction

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a lower-court ruling that denied efforts to temporarily stop construction of what is intended to be the southern end of the Keystone XL pipeline and run from Oklahoma to refineries along the Gulf Coast. The Sierra Club, Clean Energy Future of Oklahoma and the East Texas Sub Regional Planning Commission sued the Army Corps of Engineers, saying they shouldn't have approved the project. They sought a preliminary injunction to stop TransCanada from constructing the pipeline while the lawsuit went through the court system, but a district court denied that request. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the district court's ruling. The 485-mile oil pipeline is to run from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast near Port Arthur, Texas.


Man Sentenced for Throwing Human Waste at Jail Guards

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Lansing man was sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison for throwing human waste at two jail guards. Leavenworth County officials say 50-year-old Marcus Crawford was also sentenced Wednesday to nearly three years for burglary and impersonating an officer. The Kansas City Star reports that Crawford was arrested in December 2011 after he tried to enter a Lansing home, claiming he was a police detective with a search warrant. The residents fought back and he fled before being arrested. While at the jail, Crawford refused meals and covered the windows of his cell with toilet paper. Prosecutors say when two guards tried to enter the cell, Crawford threw a milk carton containing human waste at them.


Man Dies After Being Struck by Train in Emporia

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a man fell off his bicycle and was unconscious when he was hit and killed by a train in Emporia. Police Lieutenant Jim Tilton identified the victim of Wednesday night's accident as 46-year-old Michael Glaser of Emporia. Tilton says it isn't clear why Glaser fell off the bike and onto the railroad tracks. He was hit by an eastbound train that was unable to stop in time to avoid the accident. KVOE reports that Glaser was trapped underneath the train before he was extricated by rescue workers. He was pronounced dead at Newman Regional Health Center.


Northeast KS Man Charged with Murder

TROY, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man is charged with second-degree murder after a shooting at a rural home during the summer. Doniphan County Sheriff Chad Clary says 25-year-old Eric Burge of Troy was arrested Tuesday in the death of 25-year-old Matthew Sollars of Atchison. Burge also is charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm in an occupied dwelling and hosting a party with minors. Clary says authorities were called to a home southwest of Troy in early August and found the man shot. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate the incident. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that Burge is being held on a $500,000 bond. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.


Enterprise Councilwoman Behind on Utility Payments

ENTERPRISE, Kan. (AP) — The mayor of Enterprise in central Kansas wants a councilwoman to resign for not paying her utility bills. Mayor Larry Jantz says he's upset that councilwoman Debra Kamhi owes more than $9,700 to the city of Enterprise for electric, water, sewer and trash service dating back years. But Kamhi told The Salina Journal that she owes closer to "$4,000 and some change." Jantz says he learned Kamhi was behind on her utility bills after a city audit showed that the city was owed more than $118,000 for utility service since 1998. Kamhi says she has fallen on hard times and doesn't plan to resign unless the majority of the electorate want her to. Enterprise is a town of about 800 residents east of Salina.


Teen Charged in Fatal KCK Crash

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Wyandotte County prosecutors have charged a teenager involved in a traffic crash that killed a 14-year-old passenger in his car. The Kansas City Star reports the 14-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile and is accused of stealing the vehicle involved in the fatal this week. The crash occurred Monday, killing 14-year-old Casey Knight and critically injuring another girl. The teen driver faces one count of felony theft in the juvenile division of Wyandotte County District Court. Prosecutors said the crash remained under investigation Thursday.


Kansas Man Dies in AK Diving Accident

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas man has died in a commercial diving accident in southeast Alaska. Alaska State Troopers identified the victim as 32-year-old Levi Adams of Leawood, Kansas. The Ketchikan Daily News reports Adams and another unidentified man were diving in a commercial sea cucumber fishery harvest Tuesday morning near the Mountain Point area of Ketchikan. South Tongass Fire Chief Steve Rydeen says the other man surfaced, noting the "air didn't taste right." Adams didn't surface. He was pulled from the water, and responders attempted CPR. He was taken to Ketchikan Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The Coast Guard is investigating.

KCMO Seeking $100K Grant for Pit Bull Population Control

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City is on track to get $100,000 that could be used to neuter pit bulls. The Kansas City Star reports the city's Council's Public Safety Committee on Wednesday agreed to accept the grant from PetSmart Charities, and the full council is expected to do the same Thursday. Animal control officials estimate that two Kansas City neighborhoods have about 1,400 pit bulls or pit bull mixes that haven't been neutered or spayed even though a city ordinance requires pet owners to spay or neuter pit bulls unless they have a breeder's permit. The grant would likely fund free spay/neuter services for about 850 of those animals, and the city could try for an additional $100,000 to address more animals if the program is successful.

Annual Eisenhower Event Moved Because of Shutdown

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — An annual event honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower has been moved to a new location because of the federal government shutdown. The 32nd Eisenhower Pilgrimage will be held Saturday at the First United Methodist Church in Abilene. Previous ceremonies were held at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, which is closed because of the shutdown. The Salina Journal reports that the event usually involves a wreath-laying ceremony at an Eisenhower statue, with a 21-gun salute, music and troops from Fort Riley. It's generally held around Eisenhower's October 14 birthday. The event is organized by the state American Legion. Organizers say this year's event will be scaled back because it can't be held at the library.

MO Couple Charged After 7 Children Found in Motel

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A Harrisonville couple is charged with child endangerment after their seven children were found in a filthy motel room. Cass County officials say Brian David Gregerson and Tammie Gregerson were charged Tuesday after police were told the children had been left alone in the motel room for hours at a time. The couple was released on bond, but the children were placed in protective custody. Court records indicate the children were 3 to 12 years old, and the older ones had not been in school for more than a week. The Kansas City Star reports the family was evicted from its home and the parents said they were moving their belongings to a new home in Kansas City.


Probation Violation Lands KC Man 7 Years in Jail

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 35-year-old Kansas City man whose girlfriend is accused of imprisoning her malnourished daughter in a closet has been ordered to spend seven years in prison for violating terms of probation. The Kansas City Star reports that Marcus Benson pleaded guilty last year to child endangerment after authorities found a 10-year-old girl in a Kansas City apartment. She weighed 32 pounds, less than half the average weight for her age. Benson told police he hadn't seen the girl in about a year, but prosecutors said he had regular contact with her and knew about the abuse. Benson agreed to a seven-year prison term if he violated terms of probation, which required him to stay away from children younger than 17. Prosecutors say he was around a friend's children in April.



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