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Regional Headlines for Thursday, September 12, 2013


Spirit AeroSystems Announces 150 Layoffs in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Spirit AeroSystems has announced it will issue layoff notices to about 150 salaried and management workers in Wichita even as it continues to hire more factory workers. The company said Thursday the layoffs are in addition to an unspecified but significant number of salaried employees who have expressed interest in voluntary retirement and voluntary layoff programs. At the same time it is reducing its salaried and management employees, the company says it is also hiring "hundreds" more factory workers. Those jobs are for assembly, composite, metals and process mechanics as well as quality inspectors. Spirit says it is trying to balance its workforce to meet record demand from its customers and become more competitive. The company says it ramping up production for later this year and early 2014.

Federal Prosecutors Take Over Topeka Burglary Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted two men on firearms charges for their alleged roles in an August robbery of a Topeka restaurant. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom and Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor announced Thursday that federal prosecutors would take over the case from Taylor. The federal indictment was issued Tuesday against 23-year-old Derick Renee Crawford and 35-year-old Travis Jeremy Coffman in connection with the robbery of a Red Robin restaurant. The men are in federal custody on one count each of robbery, brandishing a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The prosecutors say the case was filed in federal court because of the longer potential prison terms related to the firearm charge and to send a message to criminals.

Ex-Kansas Budget Director Backs Insurance Candidate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's former budget director is supporting a fellow certified public accountant in the insurance commissioner's race. Republican candidate Ken Selzer of Leawood announced Thursday that he's received the endorsement of former Budget Director Steve Anderson and that Anderson is joining his campaign's steering committee. Anderson stepped down as budget director last month for family reasons. In the August 2014 Republican primary, Selzer faces Kansas House Insurance Committee Chairman Clark Shultz of McPherson, health insurance consultant Beverly Gossage of Eudora and insurance agent David Powell of El Dorado. No Democrat has publicly announced plans to run. Three-term Republican incumbent Sandy Praeger does not plan to seek re-election. Gossage has been endorsed by ex-U.S. House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and six Kansas House members.

2 Arrested in Death of Manhattan Man

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A man and woman are jailed as suspects in the killing earlier this week of a 68-year-old Manhattan man. Riley County police announced Thursday that the 49-year-old woman and 33-year-old man, both of Manhattan, were arrested at the county police department on possible first-degree murder charges. They are each being held on $1 million bond. Police discovered the body of John Burroughs Sunday at a rural Manhattan home. Investigators have not released further details about the death.


Equipment Issue Shuts Down Wolf Creek Nuclear Plant 

BURLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Officials at the only nuclear power plant in Kansas say a potential problem with an air conditioning unit has prompted an unplanned shutdown. Wolf Creek plant spokeswoman Cassie Bailey said Thursday a maintenance check identified issues with the air conditioning unit that cools safety-related electrical systems. The plant shut down late Wednesday. Bailey says it's not known when Wolf Creek will resume generating electricity. The plant is located near the town of Burlington, about 55 miles south of Topeka. Bailey says the problem initially appeared to be with the compressor in the air conditioning unit, but Wolf Creek is still investigating. She said the compressor had been installed recently. Wolf Creek reduced its power output for seven days in June because of issues with another air conditioning unit.


Bedbugs in Books Halt Lawrence Library Benefit Sale

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A benefit book sale for the Lawrence Public Library has been canceled by the presence of bedbugs in some donated items. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the nonprofit Friends of the Lawrence Public Library announced the cancellation Wednesday. The fall book sale had been scheduled for later this month at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. But a donor called the group last week to say his donated books contained bedbugs — which an inspection confirmed. Mary Burchill, who chairs the Friends group, says she appreciates the donor's candor in reporting the infestation. For now, a large portion of the collected for the sale is quarantined for treatment. No further donations are being accepted for now.

Topeka Man Appeals Conviction in 2006 Murder

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man convicted in a 2006 murder is asking to have his "Hard 50" sentence voided. Antwan Peppers was convicted in 2008 of killing Jermaine Cunningham and wounding another man in a shooting outside a Topeka bar and grill. He was given a "Hard 50" sentence and a consecutive term of about 21 years. On Wednesday, Peppers's attorney told a Shawnee County judge that there is newly discovered evidence in the case. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Peppers also contends he received ineffective counsel during the trial, and that one witness in the case recanted his statement. Prosecutors objected to Peppers's allegations and said an evidentiary hearing wasn't warranted. Judge Nancy Parrish said she would issue a written opinion in the near future.


KS Mother to Be Tried over Fatal Fire

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman who was away from home when her daughter suffered fatal burns in a fire has been ordered to stand trial on child endangerment charges. The Wichita Eagle reports that 27-year-old Ruthie Lee Bell pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday in Sedgwick County District Court. Judge Ben Burgess set a tentative trial date of December 2. Bell's 6-year-old daughter, Ja'Kara Dickson, died July 14, three days after the fire. The girl was playing with a lighter when she accidentally set her clothes on fire. Prosecutors said Bell had left Ja'Kara and two other daughters, ages 4 and 7, alone in the house. Neighbors heard a smoke alarm and helped pull the other two girls to safety.


Judge Rules for Ex-Social Worker in Lawsuit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a former Kansas social worker is immune from a lawsuit by the grandparents of a 23-month-old girl who was beaten to death after authorities ignored their pleas to protect her. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot summarily ruled Thursday in favor of former social worker Linda Gillen. Belot said there was no evidence that her intentional refusal to act enhanced the danger to the girl. Larry and Mary Crosetto allege in the lawsuit that Gillen did not respond to complaints about their granddaughter's abuse because she had a personal grudge against them. The couple's granddaughter, Brooklyn Coons, of Coffeyville, died in January 2008. Her father's girlfriend, Melissa Wells, is serving life in prison for the girl's death.


Judge Refuses to Block New Meat Labeling Rules

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge has refused to block new rules that require the meat industry to include specific information about the origin of their products on labels. But industry groups say they'll continue fighting. The new rules took effect in May. They require that labels for steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat include clear information about where animals grown for the meat were born, raised and slaughtered. A judge refused to issue a preliminary order Wednesday that would've blocked the rules, though he didn't decide the overall lawsuit. The American Meat Institute said Thursday it plans to appeal. It says the rules are too costly and don't provide any health benefits. The trade group represents meat packers, processors and suppliers. Seven other industry groups have joined AMI's lawsuit.


UPDATE: Bush Institute Holds Conference on Energy

DALLAS (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback was a featured panelist in Thursday at an energy conference in Dallas. The daylong meeting at the George W. Bush Institute addressed issues concerning energy regulation and energy growth. Former President George W. Bush said creation of new technologies to generate and use energy raises the issue of how to best harness it for the "common good in a reasonable way." Panelists also included Texas Governor Rick Perry and Canadian Finance Minister James Flaherty and a former Mexican energy secretary. The George W. Bush Institute is part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes his presidential library and museum. It's on the campus of Southern Methodist University.


UPDATE: MO Priest Sentenced to 50 Years for Child Porn

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City-area priest whose child pornography case led to a criminal conviction against a Roman Catholic bishop has been sentenced to 50 years in federal prison. The Reverend Shawn Ratigan received the sentence Thursday. Prosecutors had asked that he get 10 years in prison for each of five young victims after he pleaded guilty in August 2012 to five counts of producing and trying to produce child pornography. The 47-year-old was charged in May 2011 after police received a flash drive from his computer containing hundreds of images of children, most of them clothed, focusing on their crotch areas. Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was convicted last September of one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse to the state.


3 More Sentenced in Federal Sex Slave Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The wife of a southwest Missouri man who tortured a young woman he kept as a sex slave has been sentenced in federal court along with two other men who participated in the abuse. The Kansas City Star reports that 48-year-old Marilyn Bagley received probation in Thursday's proceeding. Forty-seven-year-old James Noel and 65-year-old Michael Stokes both received five-year prison sentences. Prosecutors say Bagley's husband, Edward, enticed an underage girl to be his sex slave, torturing and mutilating her. Others were allowed to view the torture sessions at Bagley's home in the southwest Missouri town of Lebanon. Edward Bagley contended the young woman voluntarily engaged in bondage and sadomasochism after she turned 18. Edward Bagley and two other men were sentenced Wednesday for their roles.


Suspect, Police Exchange Gunfire in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a homicide suspect died during a standoff with officers. Police spokesman Captain Tye Grant says officers were tried to serve a warrant on the suspect Thursday but he refused to come out. The suspect eventually opened the back door and fired at detectives, who returned fire. About noon Thursday, tactical officers looked into the home and saw the suspect on the floor. The officers entered the home and found him dead. It wasn't immediately clear if he shot himself or was hit by officers' bullets. The Kansas City Star reports that police wanted to question him about a shooting death Sunday. Police say the man who died, Joe Laudenbach, was shot after forcing his way into a home and trying to kidnap someone.

Suspect Arrested in Hutchinson Shooting Death

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson police say they have arrested a suspect in the shooting death of an Illinois man. The 35-year-old man was arrested Wednesday evening on suspicion of first-degree murder. The victim, 26-year-old Sem Adrein of Evanston, Illinois was shot on Monday evening and died at a Hutchinson hospital. Kansas State Fair General Manager Denny Stoecklein says Adrien helped to set up the fairgrounds, with his job ending last week.


Derby High School Cracks Down on Underage Drinking

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — Derby High School students who are suspected of being intoxicated at school-sponsored events will now be tested on site. The school bought two AlcoBlow devices to test the students. The device measures the amount of alcohol in the air around a person, rather than requiring someone to blow into it. The district started using the devices at last week's high school football game. No student was punished. Principal Tim Hamblin says students suspected of being intoxicated will be taken to a private area for testing. At least two school officials administer the test. KAKE reports that students who are intoxicated at school functions could be suspended and will be turned over to police for potential charges.

Rash of Burglaries Reported in Sedgwick County

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say thieves have been busy in south Sedgwick County between Derby and Haysville. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's office says it's received reports of 17 burglaries or thefts in the last 30 days in that area. KAKE reports that deputies are increasing surveillance and warning residents to be on the lookout. Sedgwick County Deputy Tim Hallacy says residents who see anything suspicious should call authorities.


KS Corn Forecast 38 Percent Above Last Year

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A new government forecast says Kansas farmers are on track to harvest 38 percent more corn than a year ago. The report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service released Thursday projects the state's corn crop to come in at 525 million bushels. The update comes as corn harvest gets underway across much of Kansas. Farmers are cutting 4.2 million acres of corn this season, up 6 percent from last year. Yields are also far better at 125 bushels per acre. That is 29 bushels an acre more than a year ago. The agency also forecasts Kansas will harvest more than twice as much sorghum as last year at 195 million bushels. Soybean production is up 58 percent from a year ago at a projected 133 million bushels.


Remodeling Planned for Wichita's Union Station

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The new owners of Union Station in Wichita say remodeling work on the historic building could begin later this year. Occidental Management bought the passenger terminal and two adjoining properties in February. CEO Gary Oborny says the company plans mixed uses such as offices, restaurants, retail shops and possibly residential units. Oborny says he hopes to preserve historical components of the building in downtown Wichita, which first opened in 1914. But he says developers also want to add some modern architecture and make the area a busy, active place. The Wichita Eagle reports that Oborny says the plans would accommodate passenger trains, if city and state officials succeed in getting Amtrak's Heartland Flyer to add Wichita to its route.

KU Faculty, Staff to Hold Water Research Event

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is looking at ways to involve more of its academic departments in research on water-related issues. A five-hour workshop scheduled Friday on the Lawrence campus will bring together more than 100 faculty and staff from more than 30 research centers and departments, including social sciences, arts and the humanities. Participants will hear from speakers, then break into groups to define high-priority water topics and identify researchers willing to work together. Organizers say the workshop is an opportunity to bring faculty from various disciplines together to think about water research in new ways. The workshop is an extension of the university's strategic plan, which includes encouraging research that has a direct public impact and involves local, state, national and global partnerships.

Presidential Speech Fails to Sway KS Delegation

It seems that President Barack Obama's speech urging military strikes on Syria did not convince members of the Kansas congressional delegation to change their minds. After the speech, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, a Republican representing the Second District, called the use of chemical weapons in Syria "horrific," but says she is unconvinced that becoming involved in the Syrian civil war is in America's best interest. At this point, only 4th District Congressman Mike Pompeo has expressed support of a planned strategic strike.


KCMO Sex Offender Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charge in Delaware

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ Federal prosecutors say a man convicted twice of sexually assaulting young boys in Missouri has pleaded guilty to transportation of child pornography. Forty-year-old Sean Lawrence of Kansas City, Missouri entered the plea Thursday in U.S. District Court in of Delaware. According to court documents, Lawrence came to the attention of a Wilmington-based Homeland Security Investigations special agent in February. Officials say Lawrence provided the undercover agent with access to his non-public, peer-to-peer network. The agent was able to download child pornography. Authorities say federal agents in Kansas City arrested Lawrence as he was downloading a video of child pornography in a community college library. Lawrence was convicted in 1995 and 2005 of sodomizing two young boys. He faces a maximum of 40 years in prison at sentencing January 6.



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