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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, August 13, 2013


ACLU Notifies Kansas of Possible Suit over Voter Registration Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union has notified Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that it intends to file a federal lawsuit over a state law requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship. The ACLU sent Kobach a notice Tuesday, telling him that Kansas is not in compliance with federal election laws because it requires new voters to provide a birth certificate, passport or other acceptable document. Federal law requires someone to give state officials 90 days' notice of a potential lawsuit. The ACLU argued that states must allow people to register to vote at driver's license offices and can't add a proof-of-citizenship requirement. More than 14,000 prospective Kansas voters have their registrations in "suspense" because they've filled out registration forms but not provided proof of citizenship.


Kobach Standing by Kansas Voter Citizenship Rule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach says Kansas will continue to enforce a law requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship despite a threatened lawsuit. Kobach said in a statement Tuesday that he's not surprised the American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to sue on behalf of other groups, including the NAACP and League of Women Voters. He said liberal groups have made it clear they oppose the rule. Federal law says groups intending to sue over such issues must give 90 days' notice. The ACLU did that Tuesday. Kobach said Kansas will keep taking its requirement "seriously." The ACLU contends Kansas is violating a federal election law aimed at ensuring people can register to vote at state driver's license offices.


'In Cold Blood' Killers' DNA Not Linked to Florida Quadruple Murder

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — DNA testing on the two men who killed a Kansas family and were profiled in the book "In Cold Blood" does not link them to a quadruple murder in Florida more than 50 years ago. Captain Jeff Bell of the Sarasota Sheriff's Office told The Associated Press on Tuesday they were unable to make a match between killers Perry Smith or Richard Hickock to Christine Walker, who was killed in Sarasota in 1959 with her husband and two children. Authorities say there's uncertainty because only partial DNA profiles were taken from the exhumed bodies and the Walker samples were degraded. No more tests are set. Smith and Hickock fled to Florida after killing Kansas farmer Herb Clutter, his wife and two of their children.


Moran Plans Visit with Kansas Business Leaders

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Senator Jerry Moran is planning to meet with business leaders and hospital administrators in south-central Kansas. The Kansas Republican scheduled a Tuesday morning tour of the National Institute for Aviation Research, followed by remarks at the monthly meeting of the Wichita Independent Business Association. Moran travels to neighboring El Dorado in the afternoon to attend the Kansas Hospital Association meeting at the Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital. The meeting includes discussions with hospital administrators from across the state and a tour of the hospital facilities.


Kansas Education Board Revokes 6 Teacher Licenses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Education has yanked the licenses of six teachers, including four convicted of sex crimes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Calvin J. Andrews of El Dorado lost his license Tuesday because he was convicted of one count of lewd and lascivious behavior. Jacob Douglas Lull of Cloud County was convicted of one count of indecent solicitation of a child. And Kurt M. Brundage and Cathleen M. Balman — both of Sedgwick County — had convictions for indecent liberties with a child. Two other teachers with burglary and bribery convictions also had their licenses removed. Some board members said more is needed. They said some county and district attorneys aren't reporting felony convictions monthly so the Department of Education can check them against employment rosters.


Former Municipal Wastewater Manager Indicted

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The former wastewater manager for the city of Hays has been charged with violating the Clean Water Act by lying about nitrogen levels in the city's discharges. The U.S. attorney's office says a four-count federal indictment Tuesday accuses 57-year-old Charles L. Blair with making false statements about nitrogen levels in effluent at the city's wastewater treatment plant. Three counts relate to statements made in discharge monitoring reports. One count charges him with lying to agents of the Environmental Protection Agency when he said he had provided accurate levels for the report. Blair retired last year. He told The Associated Press on Tuesday he did not know why he was indicted because he had not lied. Hays City Manager Toby Dougherty said the city cooperated fully with the EPA investigation.


Kansas Board of Ed to Review Rule on 'Freedom' Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State Board of Education members are reviewing a proposed regulation outlining requirements for a new "Celebrate Freedom Week" in public schools. The board scheduled a discussion of a draft version Tuesday afternoon. A new law that took effect in July requires public schools to hold "Celebrate Freedom Week" in kindergarten through eighth grade. It's designated for the week of September 17, the anniversary of the U.S. Constitution's signing in 1787. The law says the aim is teaching students about the values upon which the nation was founded. In keeping with the law, the board's regulation says schools can't censor the founders' religious views. The board will set a public hearing on the rule after it's reviewed by the attorney general and Department of Administration.


Federal Court Rejects Appeal from Kansas Man Convicted of Killing Deputy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal court has rejected an appeal from a Kansas man convicted of killing a sheriff's deputy during a 2005 hostage rescue. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday dismissed the appeal of Gregory Moore stemming from a standoff at his Newton home. Moore fatally shot one officer and critically wounded another when they barged into his house to rescue a woman during a domestic dispute. Moore is serving a life sentence for gunning down Harvey County Deputy Kurt Ford. He was also convicted in 2006 of attempted capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. Moore argued in his failed appeal that he should have been allowed to present a case at trial contending he was so intoxicated that he had an honest belief in the need to defend himself.


Judge Approves Narrowing of Planned Parenthood Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has narrowed Planned Parenthood's lawsuit against a new Kansas abortion law to a single requirement dealing with providers' websites. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil on Monday approved an agreement filed last week between attorneys for Planned Parenthood and the state. Planned Parenthood will drop its challenge to provisions of the law that took effect in July requiring abortion providers to give patients information with certain statements the providers find objectionable. The state agrees that providers are complying with those provisions if they give patients access to materials from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The only remaining issue is a new rule that the home pages of providers' websites link to a department site on abortion and say the material is accurate.


Abortion Foes Resurrect Zoning Challenge to Clinic

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council has taken no action on efforts by abortion foes to use zoning laws to drive out an abortion clinic. Representatives from four groups asked the council on Tuesday to rezone the property of the South Wind Women's Center to prohibit abortions. A similar effort earlier this year to rezone it was rejected by the city planning commission. Wichita-based nonprofit Trust Women Foundation opened a clinic earlier this year in the building owned by slain abortion provider George Tiller. The property had been used for medical purposes since 1937 and was zoned to allow a medical office when the abortion rights group bought it. The latest anti-abortion move is spearheaded Kansans for Life, Operation Rescue, World of Life Church and the Kansas Coalition for Life.


KS Crop Outlook Improves in Wake of Rain

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas crops and pastures are mostly faring better in the wake of heavy rain that brought much-needed moisture to arid western sections but swamped some fields elsewhere. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that supplies of stock water improved, but remain short to very short in 26 percent of Kansas. Pastures remain in poor to very poor shape across 39 percent of the state. Corn condition is 26 percent poor to very poor, 33 percent fair, 35 percent good and 6 percent excellent. Sorghum is rated as 15 percent poor to very poor, 36 percent fair, 43 percent good and 6 percent excellent. About 9 percent of soybeans remain in poor to very poor condition, with 29 percent rated fair, 54 percent good and 8 percent excellent.


Lawrence Library Gets $250K Grant to Start Series

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Lawrence Public Library has received a $250,000 grant to help make the city a stopping place for prominent authors. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the grant comes from the Lawrence-based Ross and Marianna Beach Foundation. The money will be used to create an annual speakers' series to bring in authors who are making news on the national or international stage. Library director Brad Allen says the goal is to "prove to publishers and authors that this is a town that supports reading and loves it when authors show up." The library hopes to have the first event in the speaker series in the summer of 2014. The event will be tied to the completion of an $18 million expansion of the downtown-area library.


Kansas Regulators Work With Law School to Train Oil & Gas Lawyers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas utility regulators and the Washburn University School of Law have formed a new partnership to train the next generation of oil and gas attorneys. The Wichita Eagle reports that it's a growing area of law as hydraulic fracturing expands. As part of the new effort, lawyers recently stood before members of the Kansas Corporation Commission re-enacting an Ellis County case decided two years ago. The case was picked because it highlights some of the main issues that come up in oil and gas cases. They include getting as much product out of the ground as possible and protecting the environment. Washburn Law professor David Pierce says the re-enactment capped a weekend seminar that pulled in about 50 students and graduates from as far away as Hawaii.


Siblings Save Toddler from Drowning in Topeka Pool

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two young siblings are credited with saving a toddler from drowning in an apartment pool in Topeka. Six-year-old Crystal Canul and her 11-year-old brother, Josias, rushed to the pool Monday night after their mother spotted the 2-year-old struggling while looking out a window of their second-floor unit. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the mother wasn't a strong swimmer, so she asked her children to help. Crystal jumped into the pool to rescue the 2-year-old. Meanwhile, Josias waited to pull the toddler from the water. The brother and sister later received hugs from Topeka police Sergeant Steve Roth as he lauded their efforts. The toddler was returned to her parents after emergency personnel deemed her OK. Roth says the girl had wandered out of an apartment.


Suspect in Former Oklahoma Officer's Death Sought in Kansas

BLACKWELL, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says a man wanted in connection with the stabbing death of a former Blackwell police officer is believed to be in Kansas. The OSBI says 29-year-old Luis Octavio Frias is believed to have been in the Wichita area on August 8th and 9th, visiting relatives and friends. The agency said Monday that agents believe Frias may still be in the Wichita area. Kay County prosecutors have filed a first-degree murder charge against Frias in the stabbing death of 29-year-old former officer Janett Reyna. The OSBI says Reyna was found stabbed to death in her apartment in Blackwell on August 8. The couple's three children were inside the apartment at the time and have been placed in protective custody.


2nd Victim Identified in Fatal Kansas City Accident

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say a 39-year-old Nebraska man was the second person to die after a weekend hit-and-run crash in Kansas City. Police say Thomas G. Salistean of Omaha, Nebraska died after being injured in the accident Sunday. His girlfriend, 36-year-old Elvia P. Walters, of Lee's Summit, also died when Salistean's car was hit by a vehicle at a Kansas City intersection. The driver of the car fled on foot and has not been captured. He left a seriously injured passenger in his car. The Kansas City Star reports that Salistean was declared brain dead and the process to donate his organs began Monday.


Tech in Multi-State Hepatitis Outbreak to Plead Guilty

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A hospital technician accused of causing a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis C last year is set to plead guilty in New Hampshire federal court in exchange for a prison term of 30 to 40 years. A plea agreement filed Monday says the deal would allow David Kwiatkowski to avoid criminal charges in Kansas, Maryland and Georgia. Kwiatkowski is accused of injecting himself with the painkiller fentanyl using stolen syringes, then replacing the drug with saline before the tainted syringes were used on patients. The plea deal says dozens of patients were infected and hepatitis C genetically linked to Kwiatkowski's strain played a "contributing role" in one Kansas patient's death. The agreement says the traveling cardiac technologist will plead guilty to seven counts each of tampering with a consumer product and obtaining controlled substances by fraud.


Federal Plea Deal in NH Details Hepatitis C Misery

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The plea agreement reached by a traveling hospital worker accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with hepatitis C in New Hampshire describes in new detail the distress and pain some of them have suffered. One man hasn't been able to return to work. Another has trouble sleeping. A third won't kiss his wife on the lips even though the blood-borne virus can't be spread that way. All were prepared to testify against David Kwiatkowski at trial. Instead, he is scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday to 14 drug charges in exchange for 30 to 40 years in prison. Forty-six people in four states in hospitals where Kwiatkowski worked have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries. With the plea, he will avoid criminal charges elsewhere.


Kansan Sentenced in Scheme That Led to Arson Death

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A man involved in a convenience store robbery that set off a chain of events leading to the death of a Kansas State University researcher has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison. KAKE-TV reports that 23-year-old Frank Joseph Hanson of Manhattan pleaded guilty earlier this year to brandishing a weapon during a robbery at the convenience store in Manhattan. Hanson was sentenced Monday to 42 months in prison. After the robbery, two other people set a fire at a Manhattan apartment complex to distract police investigating the robbery. The fire killed 34-year-old Vasanta Pallem, a postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering at Kansas State. Hanson was one of five people charged in incidents February 6 that led to the fire. Three others have been sentenced, and one more awaits trial.

Hays Day Care License Suspended After Child Death

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — The license of a Hays day care center is temporarily suspended while authorities investigate the cause of an 8-week-old infant's death. Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler says the infant died Saturday at a Wichita hospital. The child was hospitalized after emergency personnel went to Michelle M. Sarver's home day care on Wednesday because the infant was not breathing. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Monday that Sarver's license was temporarily suspended. The Hays Daily News reports that a suspension order says the child was put down for a nap on a bed, propped up by pillows and blankets. Sarver later found the infant on its stomach and unresponsive. Scheibler says he sought the temporary suspension to err on the side of caution.


Wichita Elementary School Fire Leaves Students in Flux

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita officials are unsure where students at an elementary school that was damaged by fire will attend classes when the school year begins on Wednesday. The fire hit College Hill Elementary School on Monday, the day the school had scheduled an open house and celebration to mark the end of a $1.2 million bond project. Teachers and a few students were in the building but no one was injured. Superintendent John Allison told the school board Monday night that students might have to be relocated for the beginning of the school year. The bond issue funded a new multipurpose room that will also serve as a storm shelter. The cause of the fire has not been determined.


KC Police Identify Man Shot, Killed by Officers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City have identified a man shot and killed by officers last week as a suspected parole violator. The Kansas City Star reports that the man was identified Tuesday as 44-year-old Michael Ray Bitters, of Kansas City. Officers were called to a convenience store in the northern part of the city Thursday night after someone recognized Bitters and knew he had an outstanding warrant for a parole violation. Witnesses said Bitters appeared to bait the officers, pretending to have a gun and abruptly pulling his hand from his waistband. Four officers then opened fire. Bitters was on parole for a theft conviction and on probation for a 2012 drug conviction.


Child Recovering After Wall Mishap

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 2-year-old Kansas girl who was critically injured when a stone wall fell on her is surprising her family with her quick recovery. Trayleigh Humphries of Halstead was injured Friday night while trying to crawl on the 6 ½-foot wall, when 2-inch thick bricks fell on her. Her falther, Steven Humphries, says she suffered a skull fracture, broken leg and a dislocated hip. He tells KWCH-TV that she has pins in her hip and a metal plate in her head but is awake, talking and playing. She might be able to return home from the hospital Tuesday. The family believes wet weather weakened the wall. They credit quick response from emergency responders for helping their daughter's recovery.


Missing Tortoise Returned to Its NE Kansas Home

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 50-pound tortoise that disappeared from outside its northeast Kansas has been found and returned home. Geary County Sheriff Tony Wolf says the brown African spurred tortoise was found Friday. The animal was unharmed but stuck on a ledge in a ravine behind its owners' home outside Junction City. Wolf says the tortoise wasn't injured but was a little hungry. The Daily Union in Junction City reports that the family pet was reported missing on August 5. Authorities investigated the case as a possible theft. But they also say the pen's gate may have been left open by accident or that the tortoise was frightened by stormy weather and burrowed underground.


Male Black Bear at Great Bend Zoo Dies

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A male black bear at the Great Bend zoo has died. The Great Bend Tribune reports that the bear — named Clyde — was euthanized Sunday. The bear had undergone emergency surgery Thursday. But zoo director Scott Gregory commented at the time that the procedure was risky and Clyde's condition was critical. Clyde's problem stemmed from a procedure done seven years ago when an issue with his reproductive system required surgery. But when Clyde required emergency surgery in July, scar tissue from the previous surgery became infected. His body then became toxic because he refused to eat or drink. Yet another surgery was required in July, and Clyde's condition had improved considerably by the end of the month. But his temporary recovery ended last week.


Kansas Accountant Sentenced for Embezzlement

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas accountant has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $500,000 from the construction company where he worked. The U.S. Attorney's office says 64-year-old Larry Lord, of Manhattan, must also pay about $640,000 in restitution under the sentence he received Monday. Lord worked as an accountant at Cheney Construction in Manhattan. In a guilty plea in March, he admitted writing more than $535,000 in checks on the company's account from 1995 to 2012 and using some of the money to pay personal expenses. Lord also admitted avoiding nearly $104,000 in taxes by failing to report the stolen funds as income.


University of Kansas to Promote Recycling

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Fans at University of Kansas sporting events will have a chance to go green while cheering on the Jayhawks. Kansas Athletics and KU Recycling will team up this year to launch Rock Chalk Recycle. 6News Lawrence reports that the program will start this fall. It will encourage recycling and composting inside and outside all university sports complexes. The program will accept plastic, glass, aluminum, and cardboard materials, as well as items for compost. Waste stations with color-coded bags will be placed near the facilities, with blue for recycling, green for compost and grey for trash. The recycling bags also will be distributed to tailgaters, and at soccer and volleyball matches. KU Recycling will record the weights for trash, composting, and recycling after each game to track progress during the season.


Dutch Man Hopes to Return Dog Tag to Kansas Soldier's Family


GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A Dutch man who uses a metal detector to search for World War II relics has found the long-buried dog tag of Kansas soldier. Now, 29-year-old Rico Peters is looking for relatives of Jesse G. Burris. The Great Bend Tribune reports that Peters learned through his research that Burris was born in Great Bend in 1916. Burris joined the Army in 1941 as a warrant officer. He survived the war and died in 2001 at the age of 85, and is buried in the Kansas City area. For now Peters is keeping the dog tag in a small museum he's started. Other relics he's uncovered in the woods around his home of Kerkrade include tooth brushes, tubes of shaving cream, buttons and shell casings.


Chiefs Running Back Jamaal Charles Sits Out Practice

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles sat out Kansas City Chiefs practice on Tuesday after straining his right foot the previous day's work out. Charles was working with the team's number-one offense against the Chiefs' first-team defense near the goal line when he walked toward the medical tent. He spent a couple minutes talking to trainers before climbing into a cart and being driven to the locker room. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said following the workout that Charles would play in Friday night's preseason game against San Francisco only if he's able. Charles attended Tuesday's practice but joined the rest of the injured Chiefs away from the practice field. He wasn't wearing a boot and didn't appear to be limping.



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