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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, December 24, 2013


KS Higher Ed Social Media Policy Under Fire

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Faculty members at Kansas State University want the Kansas Board of Regents to repeal a social media policy devised after criticism about a Kansas journalism professor's anti-NRA tweet. The regents approved the policy last week allowing university officials to fire faculty and staff who post social media messages that conflict with the institution's best interests and efficient operations. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the policy was partly a response to a tweet by a University of Kansas professor after the September Navy Yard shootings that killed 13 people in Washington, DC. More than 40 distinguished Kansas State professors signed a letter saying the regents should withdraw the policy, calling it an affront to academic freedom. Regents Chairman Fred Logan says the policy was carefully drawn to protect First Amendment rights and academic freedom.

Fire Hits Cargill's Dodge City Meatpacking Plant

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A fire has shut down operations at Cargill's beef packing plant in Dodge City. The Wichita Eagle reports there were no injuries in the fire Monday night at the southwest Kansas facility, but 1,000 employees were evacuated. Cargill spokesman Mike Martin said Tuesday the flames damaged the roof in one part of the plant. Investigators were looking for the cause. Martin says Cargill will be able to move production to its other beef plants temporarily. He says the company expects the Dodge City plant to resume operations next week if it can get contractors in over the holidays.


Sale, Razing of Kansas Office Buildings Proposed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state Department of Administration has developed proposals for razing one state office building near the Kansas Statehouse and selling two others. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Secretary of Administration Jim Clark has scheduled a January 9 meeting with area legislators to discuss the plans for the Docking, Landon and Eisenhower office buildings. Clark says he will brief the lawmakers on proposals to raze the Docking building and sell the other two. The Docking building is named for Robert Docking, governor from 1967-1975. It's west of the Capitol. The Landon building is named for Alf Landon, governor from 1933-1937 and the 1936 Republican presidential nominee. It's east of the Statehouse. The Eisenhower building is named for President Dwight Eisenhower and is a block north.


Court Ruling to Dictate KS School Funding Debate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Debate over the proper level of funding for Kansas public schools will shift in 2014 from the courthouse to the Statehouse after justices issue a ruling on the latest school finance lawsuit. That sets up a discussion over how legislators react. The Kansas Supreme Court has given no indication how quickly it would rule on the case, though an opinion is expected near the Jan. 13 start of the 2014 session. A lower court has ruled that the state is not meeting its constitutional obligations for funding schools, ordering an increase in spending of more than $440 million. Kansas will spend more than $3 billion in the current fiscal year, and Republican leaders show no indication they will increase that amount willingly.


Former KS Pet Shelter Chief Denies $40,000 Theft

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — The former director of a northeast Kansas animal shelter has pleaded not guilty to stealing $40,000 from the shelter where she worked for seven years. Lisa Junghans entered her plea Monday in Geary County District Court. Her attorney told The Junction City Daily Union that the state will have a hard time proving she did anything wrong. Junghans began working at the Junction City-Geary County Animal Shelter in 2006 and resigned without explanation July 9. A criminal complaint charges her with one count of theft, which it says occurred "in two or more acts or transactions." Neither city nor county officials have confirmed what funds might have been stolen, but the City Commission recently approved changes in how pet license fees are handled. Junghans is scheduled for trial in February.

Cessna Begins Deliveries of New Business Jet

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Cessna Aircraft Company says it has begun deliveries of its newest midsize business jet. The Wichita company announced it began deliveries Monday of the Citation Sovereign+ after receiving Federal Aviation Administration certification. Its new model includes a "plus" symbol in the name to differentiate it from its predecessor. The company says the Citation Sovereign+ makes a "great airplane" even better, with an increased range and enhanced performance from an earlier model. Cessna announced plans for the Citation Sovereign+ in October 2012. The first production aircraft came off the assembly line in early March. Also on Monday, Cessna said it has also begun delivering the Citation M2 light jet following FAA certification.

Kansas to Host Small-Business Forum

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas government and business leaders will headline a small-business forum next month sponsored by the state Commerce Department. Governor Sam Brownback, Commerce Secretary Pat George and Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan are scheduled to address the gathering January 7 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Participants will discuss the state's business environment, changes to the Kansas tax code for small businesses and developments in the state's economy. Others scheduled to appear are Stan Ahlerich, executive director of the Governor's Council of Economic Advisers, and Ed Condon, senior portfolio manager with Sterneck Capital Management. The featured speaker will be Neeli Bendapudi, dean of the University of Kansas School of Business.


Northeast KS Duck Hunter Drowns in Icy Lake

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas sheriff says a hunter who drowned while trying to retrieve a duck at an icy lake was a member of the military. Authorities initially believed the victim and a fellow serviceman fell into Milford Lake on Tuesday morning after their boat capsized. But KJCK-AM reports that Geary County Sheriff Tony Wolf later said the victim went out alone on a makeshift boat to retrieve a duck shot by his hunting partner from shore. Wolf says the victim stepped onto an ice sheet when the boat began taking on water, then fell through the ice. A search for the body was suspended Tuesday. The victim's name has not been released, and it's not clear if the two men were stationed at the nearby Fort Riley Army post.


Pratt House Fire Kills Twin Toddlers

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — The two children killed in a south-central Kansas house fire have been identified as 23-month-old twin boys. KAKE-TV reports the Pratt Police Department said in a release Tuesday the twins were inside the burning home when firefighters arrived Monday afternoon. The twins were identified as Jayce and Jasper Ibarra, who would have turned 2 years old in January. Their mother, 24-year-old Destry Ibarra, escaped from the house. She was reported to be in good condition Tuesday in the burn unit at Via Christi-St. Francis hospital in Wichita. Police say the children's father was not home when the fire broke out. The Kansas Fire Marshal is working with police to determine the cause of the blaze.


KS Lawyer Killed in Water Scooter Crash

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A lawyer from Kansas is dead after the water scooter he was operating collided with a motorboat in southwest Florida. The crash happened Sunday afternoon in Charlotte County. Charlotte County Fire and EMS spokeswoman Dee Hawkins told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that 54-year-old Lee Hollis of Leawood, Kansas  died Monday. Doctors amputated one of his legs on Sunday afternoon. Investigators say all four occupants of the boat were ejected during the crash. A 38-year-old woman suffered a traumatic chest injury and was airlifted to a Fort Myers hospital. The 43-year-old man who was operating the boat, a 40-year-old woman and a 12-year-old boy suffered minor injuries. People on a nearby sailboat helped rescue the injured. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gary Morse says the cause of the crash is under investigation.


Group Seeks Vote on KC Airport Plans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group has delivered more signatures on a petition aimed at forcing a public vote on a proposal to rebuild Kansas City International Airport. Citizens for Responsible Government/Friends of KCI delivered nearly 1,600 more petition signatures to City Hall on Monday. The Kansas City Star reports the signatures delivered Monday now have to be checked by the election board. Proponents of the proposal to demolish two of KCI's three terminals and rebuild the airport as a single-terminal facility say the proposed airport would offer better security, more parking and more retail options. Opponents contend that the current airport suffices, and they like its ease and convenience. They also say while the current airport may need significant upgrades, demolishing and rebuilding is unnecessary and would also be costly.


KS Parolee Fighting for Family Union


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County parolee convicted when he was 18 of having sex with a 15-year-old is fighting state rules preventing him from having contact with his children. Nathan Walker would like to spend Christmas at home with his wife and newborn son, Noah, as well as his 5-year-old stepson. Instead he's living in a halfway house a few miles away. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Walker has started a website dedicated to fighting the order from the Corrections Department's Prisoner Review Board. Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay says Walker's parole terms include no contact with minor children except with advance permission from his parole officer and consultation with the sex offender treatment program. Defense attorney John Stang says Walker's situation isn't unique for teenage Kansans convicted of unlawful voluntary sexual relations.


NW KS Media Company Acquires Systems in Colorado & Nebraska

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A northwest Kansas media company says it has purchased cable television systems in Colorado and Nebraska. Hays-based Eagle Communications acquired the cable systems serving Central City, Nebraska and Burlington, Colorado last week from USA Communications, based in Kearney, Nebraska. Eagle Communications has more than 270 employees and operates cable TV systems and radio stations in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado. The company also offers broadband and telephone services in most of the areas it serves. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Tiger Dies at Salina Area Zoo

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 17-year-old Amur tiger has died at a Salina area zoo. The tiger, Chanda, died Monday at the Rolling Hills Zoo. Chanda had been diagnosed with renal failure. Vickee Spicer, director of marketing at the zoo, said the tiger was euthanized. Chanda came to Rolling Hills in 2004. Rolling Hills, like each of Kansas's seven accredited zoos, participates in the the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' species survival plan, which often determines the placement and breeding of animals.

Kansas Ranks 10th Nationally in Oil Production

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas was the 10th highest oil producer in the U.S. as of September 2013. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says Kansas produced about 3.8 million barrels of crude oil in September. By comparison, Texas produced nearly 82 million barrels. The Kansas Geological Survey says overall oil production in Kansas as of August 2013 was at about 31 million barrels. That compares to 29 million barrels in the first eight months of 2012. Part of that increase likely was due to 302 new drilling wells recorded in 2013. The Wichita Eagle reports that natural gas production in Kansas was down as of mid-2013. Kansas produced about 199 billion cubic feet of gas in the first eight months of 2012, but that fell to about 195 billion cubic feet through August 2013.



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