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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, January 21, 2014


KS 2nd District Foes Post Fundraising Figures

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and her leading Democratic challenger in Kansas's 2nd Congressional District are both claiming success in raising funds ahead of this year's elections. Jenkins reported Tuesday that she raised more than $1.1 million for all of 2013. Democrat Margie Wakefield entered the race in August and reported raising $214,000 during the last five months of 2013. Wakefield is a family law attorney from Lawrence and is making her first bid for Congress. Jenkins is a former state legislator and state treasurer. She defeated former congressman Jim Ryun in the 2008 Republican primary and went on to oust Democratic incumbent Nancy Boyda. Jenkins is also a member of House Republican leadership, serving as vice chairwoman of the GOP conference.


Bombardier Lays Off 550 US Employees, Contractors

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Bombardier says it is laying off about 1,700 employees and contractors at its facilities in the United States and Canada. That number includes 550 people in the company's Learjet facility in Wichita. Company spokeswoman Annie Cossette said Tuesday that the layoffs in Wichita include 200 contractors who left the company in December after their contracts expired and were not renewed. Cossette would not reveal how many of the remaining layoffs involved full-time Bombardier employees or company contractors. Cossette blames persistently challenging market conditions for light aircraft, saying the layoffs were a difficult decision the company had to make in order to protect its business. The company will meeting with affected employees in the coming weeks. Cossette says some may transfer to other positions in the company.


Legislative Panel Hears Testimony About Fracking, KS Quakes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Geologists are telling a Kansas House committee that more seismic monitoring in the state could help determine hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is connected to earthquakes. Rex Buchanan, interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey, told members of the House Energy and Environment Committee Tuesday that no evidence currently exists that the fracturing of rocks deep beneath the earth's surface was producing earthquakes that can be felt. Kansas has seen an increase in oil and gas exploration in southern counties as new technology allows extraction in difficult geological formations. Hydraulic fracturing involves high-pressure injections of liquid into underground rock to release trapped fossil fuels. Fracking has been suspected as a cause of increased seismic activity in parts of the U.S. that typically aren't prone to earthquakes.


KS Supreme Court Ruling Puts Skids on Drug Tax Stamp Law

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Supreme Court ruling has prompted prosecutors in one of the state's largest counties to dismiss some drug tax-stamp charges and vow to not file them in the future. The court ruled last month in a Salina case that a defendant can't be convicted of both possessing marijuana and possessing the same marijuana without a tax stamp. The Wichita Eagle reports Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says he won't be filing new tax-stamp charges without exceptional circumstances. The court's decision marks a reversal of an earlier ruling in which it upheld the 1987 Kansas drug tax-stamp law, calling one a drug offense and the other a tax offense. Its ruling last month said both offenses arose from the same conduct, thus constituting a single crime.


KS Measure Would Ban Sky Candles, Other Devices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A city fire marshal and a former Kansas House speaker are supporting legislation outlawing sky candles, floating lanterns and other fire-fueled balloons common to Fourth of July celebrations. Winfield Fire Marshal Dennis Darby told the House Local Government Committee on Tuesday that the devices represent serious fire hazards. Ex-House Speaker Doug Mays, of Topeka, said sooner or later, a sky candle or lantern will ignite a major grass fire. No one testified against the bill. The committee took no action. The bill covers so-called "unmanned aerial luminaries" made of lightweight material attached to a fuel cell or candle. Fire heats the air beneath the balloon or lantern, causing it to rise and float for long distances before the fire goes and it falls to earth.

KS Prosecutors Defend Abortion Shooting Sentence

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas prosecutors are citing the "overall terroristic nature" of the actions of the killer of a Wichita abortion provider in defending the imposition of the so-called "Hard 50" sentence. A Sedgwick County judge sentenced Scott Roeder to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years for the 2009 shooting death of Dr. George Tiller. But the U.S. Supreme Court has since held that such sentences can only be imposed by juries, prompting Roeder to raise that as an issue on appeal. In a filing Tuesday with the Kansas Supreme Court, Sedgwick County prosecutors defended the constitutionality of the sentence in Roeder's case. The sentence is one of several issues in Roeder's appeal. The state's high court will hear arguments on January 29.


Lawrence Coping with 4 Homicides in 6 Months

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The latest homicide in Lawrence was the fourth in the city in the last six months, after nearly five years with no homicides reported. 6NewsLawrence reports that when 51-year-old Gary Edens was shot to death in his driveway last July, it was the first homicide in Lawrence since 2008. That was followed by the shooting death of Margaret Hopkins at her home in November, and the Christmas Day stabbing death of 33-year-old Wayne Francisco. The latest death occurred early Saturday, when the body of 52-year-old Harold Sasko was found at his home. Police continue to search for 19-year-old Sarah Gonzales McLinn, who lived with Sasko. Twenty-year-old Brittny Adams pleaded guilty last Friday to intentional second-degree murder in Edens's death. Suspects have also been charged in Hopkins's and Francisco's deaths.


Kansas Prisons Chief Not Yet Pushing for New Beds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts isn't yet pushing legislators to expand the state's prison system, but he is warning that they'll eventually confront a need to find new space for inmates. Roberts told the Senate Ways and Means Committee at a hearing Tuesday the state expects its prisons to be at full capacity by July 2016. Roberts said lawmakers will then have to decide whether to add new space, put inmates in private prisons or send some of them to county jails. The Department of Corrections already has drafted proposals for expanding the maximum-security prison outside El Dorado. But Roberts said a decision on an expansion can wait until next year. Tuesday's hearing focused on Governor Sam Brownback's budget proposals for prisons.


Bayer to Invest in Shawnee and St. Joseph Operations

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Bayer HealthCare plans to invest about $10 million to improve efficiency at its Shawnee, Kansas and St. Joseph, Missouri facilities. The company announced Monday that it will combine and transfer operations from its three locations in the St. Joseph area to one location. Bayer also will transfer its regulatory and development work to its U.S. headquarters in Shawnee. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that about $6.5 million will be spent in St. Joseph and $3.5 million in Shawnee. Company spokeswoman Lauren Dorsch says the changes are expected to be finished by next year. The company says it's too soon to determine how the changes would affect employees. Bayer took over the St. Joseph facilities in January 2013 after it acquired the U.S.-based animal health business of Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries.


KU Med Center Asked to Produce More Psychiatrists

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Some state agencies are looking to the University of Kansas Medical Center to train more psychiatrists to address a widespread shortage, but doing so will be neither cheap nor easy. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Shawn Sullivan, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, says a consultant determined that his agency needs more than three extra psychiatrists to meet its service needs. Sullivan says his department and other state agencies can meet mental health needs by telemedicine for now, but in the long run there will be a need for more  more psychiatrists coming out of KU Medical Center. William Gabrielli is chairman of the center's psychiatry department. He says the school currently has about 10 general psychiatry residencies for each year's class, and each costs the center $100,000.


Judge Sets Hearing in KS Suicide Bomb Plot Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys for a man accused of planning a suicide bombing at a Wichita airport say they expect the trial to focus on what they're calling entrapment and outrageous government conduct. Attorneys for 58-year-old Terry L. Loewen on Tuesday opposed many rules prosecutors want for purported national security reasons, saying the government wants to micro-manage the defense's handling of evidence. Loewen's attorneys say they believe some information will show how the FBI transformed the former Marine into an alleged terrorist prepared to commit suicide for al-Qaida. Investigators allege Loewen tried to bring what he believed was a car bomb onto the airport tarmac on December 13. Charges include attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted material support to a terrorist organization. A hearing is scheduled for February 10.


Kansas Toddler Killed by Falling Television

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 2-year-old girl has died after an older-model television fell on her in a Salina apartment. WIBW reports that the child was playing near the television Tuesday when she was hurt. The girl was taken to an area hospital where she was pronounced dead. Police said two adults were in the apartment at the time of the accident.


KSU Using 3-D Printers to Make Ideas Come to Life

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University students are using 3-D printers to make their ideas come to life. Two architecture professors are using the printers to help students explore the limits of gravity and to challenge themselves as designers. Engineering students create parts, tools and prototypes for research and student projects. They even use the printers to design robots. Eric Wagner is a research technician for the department of mechanical and nuclear engineering and manages a large printer. He says the printer helps researchers check their design and make sure it is going to work before they invest the time and money to make the final product. He says the larger printer runs nearly 24 hours a day. When classes aren't in session, it generates revenue by creating pieces for companies and industry.


Students from KS College to Lead March for Life

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — Representatives of a small college in northeast Kansas will lead the thousands of marchers expected to participate in the March of Life in Washington D.C. this week. More than 400 students from Benedictine College in Atchison are attending the annual anti-abortion march in Wednesday. Several dozen members of that group will carry a banner in front of the marchers. Benedictine monks, faculty and alumni are with the students. The Kansas City Star reports the Benedictine group will be joined by about 30 students from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Emporia State University, and Newman University in Wichita. Kathryn Brown, a Benedictine junior, contacted the president of the March for Life last year to ask if her group could lead this year's event.


Benefit Scheduled for Family of Man who Died in Stadium Incident

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A spring golf tournament is being planned to help the family of a Smithville man who died after an altercation at Arrowhead Stadium. The Kyle Van Winkle golf classic will be held May 5 at Meadowbrook Golf & Country Club in Prairie Village, Kansas. The 30-year-old Van Winkle died December 1 after he was beaten in an Arrowhead parking lot during a Chiefs game. Court documents say Van Winkle was injured after he was found in a stranger's vehicle. Van Winkle apparently got into a vehicle that looked like the one he rode to the game in. He left behind a widow and 7-week-old son. His death was ruled a homicide but no one has been charged.


KC Woman Gets 30 Years for Distributing Cocaine

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 41-year-old Kansas City woman has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison without parole for distributing hundreds of kilograms of cocaine in Jackson County, Missouri. U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson says Tamiko Grandison was convicted in August and sentenced Tuesday for her role in a drug conspiracy in which she delivered the cocaine for her then-boyfriend, Jiles Johnson. Dickinson says Johnson brought cocaine to Kansas City in 30- and 50-gallon drums and broke it down into kilogram quantities in Grandison's basement. Prosecutors say she stored the drugs at her residence until it was delivered. Johnson is being prosecuted in a separate case in the Northern District of Georgia, where the government alleges that tons of cocaine were smuggled across the Mexican border and distributed throughout the U.S.


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