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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Brownback Sets Goal of 100K New Jobs in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he'll work to create 100,000 new private-sector jobs over four years if he's re-elected. Brownback, a Republican, announced his goal Tuesday as part of a platform that his campaign calls "Road Map 2.0." It follows up on a set of goals he outlined in seeking his first, four-year term in 2010, called "The Road Map for Kansas." The governor was having rallies in Overland Park, Topeka and Wichita to unveil his platform. Brownback said four years ago that he wanted to increase private-sector employment. Since he took office in January 2011, the state has added nearly 55,000 private sector jobs. Critics note that the percentage of job growth is lower than the U.S. figure. Brownback faces a tougher-than-expected race against Democratic challenger Paul Davis.


Brownback: Growth Will Close Kansas Budget Gap

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says his plan to create 100,000 new private-sector jobs in Kansas over the next four years will also close a projected state budget shortfall. Brownback pledged Tuesday to work to create the new jobs if he's elected to a second, four-year term. The promise is a key part of his campaign platform. He said during a rally at a Topeka business that aggressive income tax cuts enacted at his urging are creating economic growth. But he's facing questions about whether the reductions are undermining the state's finances. The Legislature's nonpartisan research staff issued a new forecast last week predicting the state will have a $238 million budget shortfall by July 2016. But Brownback said economic growth will allow the state to avoid budget problems.


Drawing Decides Southeast Kansas Election

IOLA, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas man has won a seat on the Allen County Commission thanks to the luck of a draw. The Iola Register reports that Jerry Daniels and Jim Mueller were vying for the Republican nomination in last week's primary election. A recount by hand confirmed the initial electronic tabulation of a tie, with each candidate receiving 255 votes. So on Monday, County Commission chairman Jim Talkington reached into a bowl and pulled out a slip of paper with Daniels's name. Mueller, of Moran, said he won't seek a second recount. Daniels, who lives in Humboldt, doesn't have a Democratic opponent in November's general election, meaning he'll fill a vacant seat on the commission in January.


Kansas Expected to Have Bountiful Harvest of Fall Crops

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government report predicts bountiful fall crops in Kansas following a devastating winter wheat harvest. The National Agricultural Statistics Service forecast on Tuesday that Kansas farmers would bring in 544 million bushels of corn this year. That is 7 percent more than a year ago. The report also estimated the state's grain sorghum harvest at 187 million bushels. That is up 13 percent from last year. Kansas soybean production is forecast at 151 million bushels, up 18 percent from the previous year. All of the fall crops benefited from widespread rains throughout their growing season. But drought conditions earlier this spring decimated the state's winter wheat. Wheat production is estimated at 235 million bushels. That is down 26 percent from last year for the worst harvest in 25 years.


Sierra Club Questions Loss of Ozone Monitor

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ The Sierra Club in Kansas says state health officials and Kansas State University removed an ozone pollution monitoring site near Manhattan to prevent data collection that might support federal limits on Flint Hill grassland burns. State health officials dispute that charge, saying the device was unplugged because the equipment was more suitable for evaluating pollution in population centers. The air-quality monitoring equipment at the Konza Prairie site was unplugged in April, 2013 just before the burn season.


ACLU Says Offender Registry Unconstitutional

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas is urging the Kansas Supreme Court to uphold a judge's finding that the state's criminal offender registry is unconstitutional. The registry includes sex offenders as well as people convicted of certain violent crimes and drug offenses. The ACLU said in a filing Tuesday that instead of improving public safety, the registry laws impede offenders from reintegrating into a community. The arguments come in a lawsuit filed by a child molester seeking to have his name removed from the Kansas offender list. Shawnee County Judge Larry ruled a law extending his registration requirement was a punishment that couldn't be retroactively enforced under the U.S. Constitution. But the National Center for Victims of Crime says upholding the ruling would "profoundly affect" victims.


Attorney: Manning Not Receiving Approved Hormone Therapy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union and an attorney say convicted national security leaker Chelsea Manning isn't receiving medical treatment for her gender identity condition as previously approved by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The ACLU and Manning's civilian attorney sent a letter Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Defense and the federal military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas threatening to sue if Manning does not receive treatment for gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman in a man's body. Manning, who changed her name from Bradley after her conviction, is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth for giving WikiLeaks classified documents. She has asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman. Messages seeking comment were left Tuesday for the U.S. Army and the prison.


2 Workers Severely Burned in Fireworks Explosion

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in southeast Kansas say two employees of a fireworks manufacturer were severely burned in an explosion outside the company's former headquarters in Pittsburg. Crawford County Undersheriff Steve Geier says the blast occurred at 2:35 pm Tuesday while the employees of Jake's Fireworks were moving materials from a shipping container. The materials were to be transported to the company's new headquarters in a Pittsburg industrial park. The Morning Sun newspaper reports that both workers were flown to hospitals in Missouri. Crews extinguished a fire caused by the explosion but planned to remain at the scene overnight.


Wichita Man Going to Prison for Mortgage Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man described by prosecutors as the leader of a mortgage fraud conspiracy has been sentenced to six years in federal prison. The U.S. Attorney's office says 47-year-old Manjur Alam must also pay more than $250,000 in restitution under the sentence he received Monday. He pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Alam admitted leading several co-conspirators to lie on applications for mortgage loans, in some cases providing false letters of credit for supposed home buyers who never intended to live in the houses. A judge said the resulting loans cost federal lenders more than $485,000. Five other people involved in the scheme have sentenced to supervised release. A sixth was sentenced Monday to two years of federal probation.

Small Colleges Make Big Impact on KS Economy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Small private colleges in Kansas have a huge economic impact. A study commissioned by the Kansas Independent College Association says the 18 schools contribute more than $980 million a year to Kansas's economy. The association is trying to raise the public profile of the small schools that are probably best known to their graduates. The study looked at 17 smalller Kansas schools including Baker University, Friends University, Benedictine College, Bethel College and Kansas Wesleyan.

Wichita Man Says Ebola-Stricken Mother Improving

UNDATED (AP) — The son of a North Carolina-based missionary says his mother is doing well as she's being treated for the Ebola virus in an Atlanta hospital. Jeremy Writebol of Wichita told NBC's "Today" show in an interview broadcast Tuesday that Nancy Writenbol's eyes are getting brighter and she's even joking a little. Jeremy Writebol said he had been concerned his mother might not make it when she was taken out of an ambulance at Emory University's hospital last week after being flown from Liberia. A second American, Dr. Kent Brantly, had been able to walk from the ambulance into the hospital. Writebol said doctors have said they expect her to recover, though they haven't elaborated. He also said he wouldn't be surprised if his parents want to return to Liberia after she recovers.


Bystanders Halt Attempted Abduction of Child


GRANDVIEW, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in western Missouri are crediting a pair of bystanders with stopping the attempted abduction of a 4-year-old boy as his mother watched from her wheelchair. KSHB-TV reports that the incident took place around 6:30 pm Monday at an apartment complex in Grandview. Officers said the boy and his mother were outside when a woman grabbed the child and ran up the stairs in a nearby apartment building. Two men followed the abductor and confronted her, but the woman refused to release the boy and hung him over a railing. Police said one of the men was able to grab the child, who was returned to his mother unharmed. The suspect was taken into custody. Grandview police said they don't think she was related to the boy or his mother.


Despite University's Efforts, Sexual Assaults Persist

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A University of Kansas survey shows that one in 10 students has been a victim of sexual harassment, including sexual assault. A University of Kansas official says about 30 reported incidents over a two-year span involved men raping or sexually assaulting woman who were drunk. KU created the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access about two and a half years ago. It investigates sexual assaults reported to the university. The office's director says the university investigates all sexual assault complaints. According to a 2012 CDC report, nearly 20 percent of undergraduate female students have been victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.

Growing Kansas Wine Industry Poised for Harvest

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — It's grape harvest time in Kansas, and the state's growing wine industry is expecting a big crop this year. The Kansas Grape Growers & Winemakers Association says the state has 35 registered wineries and vineyards. Most are small, with two to five acres of grapes, rather than large-scale farms. Nearly all of them are in eastern Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports the state's climate doesn't allow wineries to grow well known grapes such as Cabernet or Merlot. Instead, they grow hybrids that include part of the heartier native American grapes. Winemakers produced 107,000 gallons of wine worth $6.9 million in 2010, the last official count. Wine experts say this year's production is likely to be much higher, thanks to a strong harvest of grapes.

Construction Delays Air Shows at McConnell

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Construction at McConnell Air Force Base will delay air shows at the base in Wichita for at least two more years. Base spokeswoman Lieutenant Jessica Brown says no air show will be scheduled this year or next year because of the construction as McConnell prepares for KC-46A refueling tankers. The first of 36 aircraft are scheduled to arrive in February 2016. The Wichita Eagle reports no show was held in 2013 when the Air Force canceled all public events because of budget cuts. Brown says a decision will be made next spring on whether to have a show in 2016. Construction on three hangars and an aircraft parking station has begun and isn't scheduled to be completed until March 2017.


Crash Suspect Pleads Guilty to Firearms Charge

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man accused of killing a police technician in a motor vehicle crash has pleaded guilty to a federal weapons offense. The U.S. Attorney's office says 29-year-old Larneal Davis admitted having two semi-automatic pistols in his vehicle when he crashed into a car driven by Michael Chou while fleeing from police last July. Davis has previous convictions for drug offenses, making it illegal for him to possess firearms. He pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court and agreed to request a 10-year sentence. Davis is also charged in state court with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Chou, who worked for the Kansas City Police Department as a crime scene technician. He's scheduled for trial on that charge next month.


First-Place Royals? Better Start to Believe It

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — When the Kansas City Royals rolled out of bed Tuesday morning and glanced at the standings, they saw something that hadn't been the case since many of them were in junior high school. Kansas City was sitting atop the AL Central and the playoffs were closer than opening day. After they won their eighth straight game Monday night, against AL West-leading Oakland no less, the Royals assumed control of their division at the latest point in a season since 2003. Perennial powerhouse Detroit had been relegated to second place, at least for a day, and an entire city that has been starved for winning was able to relish the moment.

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