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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, February 28, 2012


KS Panel Considers Cutting Funds for Remedial Course Work

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee is considering legislation that would eliminate state funding for remedial courses at state universities and community colleges.  Testimony on the bill is scheduled tomorrow (WED) before the House Appropriations Committee.  The measure would prohibit Board of Regents colleges and universities from using state funds to teach language arts or math courses designed to give students basic skills before they take formal college courses.  Universities and community colleges could still offer such courses, but funding would have to come from private or endowment sources.  The bill would also reduce to 5 percent from the current 10 percent the proportion of each freshman class at state institutions that could be exempted from entrance standards.


Will Charges be Filed in Case of Illegal Fireworks at KS Statehouse?

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor hasn't decided whether to file criminal charges against a man who parked a pickup truck carrying homemade fireworks near the Statehouse.  Lee McGowan, chief of staff to Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, says Capitol Police are still wrapping up their investigation of the February 15 incident.  The Capitol Police initially described the devices found in the pickup as improvised explosive devices or homemade bombs, but later said they were illegal fireworks.  The truck's owner parked the vehicle in a lot at the Kansas Judicial Center, across the street from the Capitol.  Officers detained the man in an underground tunnel connecting the Statehouse with an office building, but he was released.


KS GOP Leader Questions Pace of Meetings Review

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokesman for a northeast Kansas district attorney says his office plans to begin setting up interviews this week with legislators who had private meetings with Governor Sam Brownback at his official residence.  Chief of staff Lee McGowan says that Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor's office has not started interviews because of its caseload.  Taylor, a Democrat, is investigating the legality of seven meetings that the Republican governor had in January with GOP members of 13 legislative committees.  Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said the governor remains confident the meetings were legal. Legislators described them as informal dinners.  Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican, said if Taylor thought the investigation was important, he should have started interviews while lawmakers' memories were fresh.


Body in Creek Identified as Missing Kansas City Man

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Independence police say a body found in a creek over the weekend is that of a Kansas City man missing for more than month.  The Examiner reports the man has been identified as 35-year-old Eric W. Hedrick. Hedrick was reported missing from Kansas City on January 19.  A cause of death is still unknown, but the medical examiner's office says there was no obvious sign of foul play.  Police were called to the creek in north-central Independence on Saturday after someone discovered the body.


KS Toddler Tumbles Unnoticed from Mother's Car

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita say a 2-year-old boy suffered scrapes, cuts and a swollen lip after unbuckling a seat belt and tumbling unnoticed from his mother's moving car.  Residents spotted the toddler running down the street in a quiet neighborhood Sunday afternoon, crying and bleeding from his nose and lip.  The Wichita Eagle reports the boy fell out the back seat of his mother's car after unbuckling a seat belt and opening the door. The 22-year-old mother didn't notice the toddler missing until after she arrived home, more than a mile away. She retraced the route and found a woman comforting the little boy.  Police say the mother has been questioned but not arrested.


Hearing Focuses on Whether ATF Targeted Blacks in Firearms Bust

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge in Kansas is expected to hear evidence on claims that a federal firearms sting in Wichita was racially motivated.  At least 43 of 51 people facing federal charges from the months-long operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are black.  Lawyers for some of the defendants contend the operation targeted black males because the ATF's bogus pawn shop was located in a neighborhood with one of the city's highest concentrations of African-Americans.  U.S. District Judge Monti Belot scheduled an evidentiary hearing in the case this (TUE) afternoon.  The government argues the claim of a racially motivated prosecution is baseless.


Group Says State Law Preventing Rally in Hutchinson

 HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Organizers of a large motor home gathering say they won't hold their event in Hutchinson because of a state law that prohibits out-of-state dealers from selling recreational vehicles in Kansas. The Family Motor Coach Association told the Kansas State Fair manager Monday that it will not bring its event to Hutchinson this year or next. The Hutchinson News reports that when the event was held in 2002, about 5,000 motor coaches camped at the fairgrounds, bringing an estimated $24.4 million economic boost to Reno County and another $7.2 million to the state. The law that prohibits out-of-state recreational vehicle and auto dealers from selling products in Kansas is designed to protect in-state motor home businesses.


Kansan Sentenced to Prison over Social Security Fraud

DENVER (AP) — A Kansas woman has been sentenced to prison for Social Security fraud.  Federal prosecutors say 61-year-old Kimberly Ann Stenerson, of Mankato, has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for making a false statement to the Social Security Administration. The former Steamboat Springs, Colorado resident was accused of accepting benefits for a mentally disadvantaged aunt whom she had placed in a nursing home in Mexico, while telling Social Security officials the aunt lived in California and that she checked on her regularly.  She must pay restitution.


KCP&L Seeking Rate Increase for Missouri and Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Power & Light is asking for a rate increase of its Missouri customers, and plans to ask for higher rates in Kansas later this year.  The company announced that it's asking for an average 15 percent increase in Missouri. That's about $180 a year for an average residential customer.  The rate of increase will vary in KCP&L's three service areas.  Utility officials said in a news release that the increase was needed to offset the increasing costs of transmission lines and other system upgrades, as well as alternative energy projects. It also cited a lack of wholesale power sales.  The Kansas City Star reports that the utility plans to file a rate case later this year affecting Kansas customers.


Lawrence Retirement Center Wants Lawsuit Dismissed

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys for a Lawrence retirement center are asking a Douglas County judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the family of a former resident who alleged she was sexually assaulted at the center.  The family of Jean S. Allen sued Brandon Woods at Alvamar in January. They alleged that a nursing aide sexually assaulted Allen in October 2010 and staff covered up the crime. The family moved Allen to a different center, where she died in November 2010.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that an attorney for Brandon Woods says in a court filing that Allen was well cared for and notes that no one was ever prosecuted in the case.  Douglas County prosecutors said in January there was no longer an active criminal investigation in the case.


KS Doctor Claims He Got Poor Legal Advice

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas doctor serving a two-year prison sentence says he felt coerced and pressured when he pleaded guilty to unlawfully prescribing painkillers to a woman he never met.  Lawrence Simons testified in federal court yesterday (MON) on his claim that his previous attorney provided ineffective counsel. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot heard more than three hours of testimony but did not immediately rule.  Simons, of Goddard, is scheduled to complete his prison term March 7. He wants the judge to remove a prohibition barring him from practicing medicine during his supervised release.  He contends he is innocent and claims his trial attorney led him to believe he would get probation if he pleaded guilty.  But under cross-examination, Simons acknowledged admitting his guilt under oath at his plea hearing and sentencing in 2010.


AP Source: Gingrich Group Gets "Substantial" Funds

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A billionaire casino owner has given another "substantial" contribution to an independent group supporting Republican Newt Gingrich. The group is launching new TV ads in seven states this week.  A person familiar with the contribution says the super PAC Winning Our Future received a substantial donation from billionaire Sheldon Adelson that is similar to two separate $5 million donations Adelson and his family gave previously. The person was not authorized to discuss the donations publicly and requested anonymity.  The committee will air TV ads in Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee -- four Super Tuesday states voting March 6 and considered key to Gingrich's campaign. The super PAC will also start airing ads soon in Kanas, Mississippi and Alabama.  The Washington Post first reported the donation and ads.


City of Lawrence Won't Allow Chicken Slaughter for Art

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Chickens that were to be publicly slaughtered as part of an art project in Lawrence have been spared.  City officials told artist Amber Hansen that the slaughter would violate animal cruelty ordinances.  Hansen originally planned to display coops of chickens at various locations around Lawrence. The chickens were to be publicly slaughtered and served as a meal. She says the intention is to draw attention to the process of slaughtering animals.  Assistant City Attorney Chad Sublet told Hansen a public slaughtering of chickens would violate city codes. And even keeping the chickens on private land would require her to meet other city codes on animal care.  Hansen told the Lawrence Journal-World that she'll change the public art event, rather than fight the city's decision.


Man Ordered to Trial in Death of Wife's Caretaker

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe man will stand trial for first-degree murder in the death of his wife's live-in caretaker.  Fifty-nine-year-old Stephen M. Collier has been ordered to stand trial in the December death of 54-year-old Susanne Goslin.  Collier pleaded not guilty. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 6.  Goslin, a registered nurse, died from a gunshot wound to the head. She had been hired to care for Collier's wife at their home in Olathe.  The Kansas City Star reports that Collier's wife found Goslin's body December 28. She testified at the preliminary hearing that she saw her husband with a gun in his hand that day and that he fired a shot into the floor.  Collier did not testify during the hearing.  Collier is being held on $750,000 bond.


Man Pleads Guilty in Crash Death of WSU Student

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old Wichita man will be sentenced April 12 for driving drunk and causing an accident that killed a Wichita State University student and injured two others.  Thirty-seven-year-old Tommie Lee Cameron Jr. pleaded guilty yesterday (MON) to involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence.  Cameron had been charged with second-degree murder in the July 2010 death of 21-year-old Kari Rinehart. She died when Cameron's car crashed nearly head-on into Rinehart's car.  Cameron also pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated battery for injuring Rinehart's identical twin, Kati Rinehart, and friend, Reva Sams in the crash.


First Black MLB Coach - Buck O'Neil - Honored at Missouri Capitol

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Major League Baseball's first black coach has been inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians.  The late Buck O'Neil, who played first base for the Kansas City Monarchs and went on to become a leading ambassador for Negro Leagues Baseball, was praised by former Kansas City Royals player Frank White and others during a ceremony yesterday (MON).  A bronze bust of O'Neil will now be included in a display at the Capitol.  O'Neil died in 2006 at the age of 94. He played 11 seasons with the Monarchs and was later hired as a scout by the Chicago Cubs, who made him the first black major league coach in 1962.  He became a scout for the Royals in the late 1980s and raised money for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.


Catcher Salvador Perez Signs $7 Million Deal with KC Royals

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have signed catcher Salvador Perez to a five-year contract worth $7 million.  The team announced the deal yesterday (MON). The contract includes club options for three more years that could keep Perez with the Royals through the 2019. If Perez reached all the performance bonuses and incentives, the contract could be worth $26.75 million over eight years.  The 21-year-old Perez made his major league debut last August 10 and hit .331 with eight doubles, two triples, three home runs and 21 RBIs in 39 games. He has been chosen as the best defensive catcher in the Royals' organization the past three years.  Perez, who is from Venezuela, was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on September 27, 2006.


Former KU Star Marcus Morris Cited after Kansas-Missouri Game

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Houston Rockets rookie reserve Marcus Morris faces a misdemeanor battery citation over a reported Lawrence bar incident several hours after his former Kansas teammates beat Missouri on Saturday.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Supervising City Prosecutor Jerry Little has confirmed the citation.  The citation stems from a 2:37am Sunday police call to a Lawrence bar.  Police spokeswoman Kim Murphree says a male employee was punched twice and that two men received citations. Little says those citations show that Marcus Morris is scheduled to appear March 20 in Lawrence Municipal Court.  Morris had attended the Missouri-Kansas game with his twin brother, Markieff, a former Jayhawk who now plays for the Phoenix Suns. Markieff wasn't implicated.  A message left for the Rockets wasn't immediately returned.  


Police Crack-Down on Those Who Illegally Park in Handicapped Zones

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — People who park illegally in handicapped parking zones in Wichita might have a harder time getting away with it.  The Wichita police department is asking for volunteers to help it enforce handicapped parking regulations. The department is accepting applications for volunteers this week through March 13.  Lt. Doug Nolte says the volunteers will be trained by police to take pictures of violations, fill out forms and report the violations to police.  Volunteers must be at least 21 years old have a valid Kansas driver's license.


Air Force Investigating Disputed Plane Contract

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Air Force is setting aside a disputed $354 million contract for a light air support plane and opening an investigation into the award. The Air Force said in an emailed statement Tuesday that it advised the Department of Justice it will take corrective action on the contract. Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley says the Air Force senior acquisition executive wasn't satisfied with documentation supporting the award decision. The contract was awarded to Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corp. in December. Wichita-based Hawker Beechcraft filed a lawsuit alleging its own aircraft was wrongly excluded from the selection process. The Air Force halted work on the contract last month after Hawker Beechcraft sued but said at the time it was confident in the merits of the award decision.


Kan. woman sentenced in baby's hair dryer death

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman who left a hair dryer running to warm her infant daughter on a freezing night has been sentenced to three years' probation for the baby'sdeath from hyperthermia. KWBW-AM reports that Brigit (BRIHJ'-eht) Hippen of Hutchinson could go to prison if she violates terms of the community correction sentence she received Tuesday in Reno County District Court. Hippen pleaded no contest last month to involuntary manslaughter in the February 2010 death of her 2-month-old daughter, Karina Perez. Hippen had been charged with second-degree murder. Hippen told investigators she placed a running hair dryer near Karina's bassinet to warm thebaby, then fell asleep. Doctors have said Karina's temperature was 108 when she died.

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