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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Kansas Board Rejects Voter Registration Temporary Fix

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state board has rejected proposed temporary changes to the Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship for newly registered voters. The change proposed Tuesday by Secretary of State Kris Kobach was in response to a glitch that caused delays to nearly 12,000 voter registration applications. Kansas now requires that new applications to register to vote also include proof of citizenship. A new state computer system that was supposed to provide that verification to the secretary of state's office hasn't started sending the information to election officials. The rule change would have allowed those individuals to cast a provisional vote in the next election and then bring proof of citizenship to election officials before the votes are certified.

Silver Alert Issued for Missing Lyndon Man

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Osage County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help in finding a 67-year-old man. The sheriff's office said in a release Monday that Raleigh D. Heskett of Lyndon, was last seen late Sunday in Coffey County driving a 2002 GMC full size brown van, bearing Kansas license plate 417DCF. The sheriff's office says Heskett has a severe laceration to his right forearm that occurred Saturday. If Heskett is located, he may need immediate medical attention. Heskett is 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, and has a grey beard and mustache. He also has a panther and cobra tattoo on his left arm and was last seen wearing blue jeans and a black ball cap.

U.S. Senate Subcommittee OKs $404M in Funds for NBAF

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. Senate subcommittee has approved $404 million in federal spending for the construction of a new federal research laboratory at Kansas State University. The vote Tuesday sends the funding for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration. The money is part of the Department of Homeland Security budget for 2014. Federal officials want to build the $1.25 billion lab to replace an aging facility at Plum Island, New York, to conduct research on animal diseases. State officials have approved spending up to $305 million in bond proceeds as part of its cost to construct the lab. Ground has been broken on a central utility plant that will service the lab. Tuesday's development was announced by Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran.


State Agencies Moving from Wichita Building

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — State officials have notified the city of Wichita that nine agencies will be leaving a city-owned building, meaning more than 700 people will be moving. Most of the employees in the Finney State Office Building work for the Department for Children and Families. Department regional director Diana Bidwell says the agency's work space is spread over seven floors in the building, making it difficult to efficiently serve clients. The Wichita Eagle reports that the department is handling about 45,000 cases and that number is expected to increase. The state agencies have been in the building for nearly 20 years. Though the city owns the building, the state has managed it for several years. The state currently is looking for new space in Wichita.

Junction City Says Someone is Stealing Water

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Junction City officials and police are on the hunt for people who are stealing some of the city's water. The city can't account for about 30 percent of its water usage and has been told by the state that it is exceeding its allotted use. The city was told to control its water use or it will be sanctioned. The police department issued a news release last week asking the public for help finding anyone who is stealing water. It says much of the missing water can be attributed to old, inaccurate meters and leakage. But police say some people apparently are taking water from public hydrants for construction or agricultural use. The city has procedures to work with people to acquire bulk city water legally.


Colonoscopy Patients at Kansas Hospital Urged to Get Blood Tests

CHANUTE, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas hospital is asking 244 patients who received colonoscopies since early January to get tested for communicable diseases because its equipment wasn't properly cleaned and disinfected. Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute says the risk that anyone was infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV is extremely low — but not zero — so it is encouraging its colonoscopy patients to get tested for those diseases. The hospital says the endoscope used for colonoscopies wasn't properly flushed according to the manufacturer's cleaning instructions because a water channel in the device was not being used. It says the scopes were immersed in a sterilizing agent before being used on each new patient, so the chance that any diseases will be transmitted through the equipment is very low.


40 Railway Cars Derail in Hays; No Injuries Reported

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Railroad officials say a train derailment in Hays occurred when a freight train hit a standing train, causing a fire but no serious injuries. Union Pacific Railroad spokesman Mark Davis said all three crew members of the Salina-to-Denver freight train escaped injuries. The second train was unoccupied when it was hit about 1:25 am Tuesday. The Hays Daily News reports that three locomotives and 79 cars were part of the westbound train, which was carrying low-grade ethanol and general freight such as steel, wheat, beer and particle board. The 20 tankers carrying low-grade ethanol did not derail. Officials say fuel from two of the three locomotives was on fire. About 15 to 20 people who lived near the accident site were evacuated as a precaution.

Tree-Killing Beetle Found in Johnson County

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A beetle that has killed millions of ash trees in the eastern U.S. and parts of the South has been detected in Johnson County. The Kansas Department of Agriculture said Monday that the emerald ash borer was found in a tree near the Johnson County landfill. Trees there were being inspected after the presence of emerald ash borers was found last summer in Wyandotte County. The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the beetle's presence in Johnson County on July 11th. Ash trees become infested when adult beetles lay eggs on the bark, leading to larvae that bore into the tree. Kansas has enacted an emergency quarantine for Johnson County, similar to a quarantine in place in Wyandotte County, designed to prevent further spread of the pests in Kansas.


Missouri Appeals Court Says Kansas Gun Store Not Liable in Fatal Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri appeals panel says it agrees with a lower court ruling that said a Kansas gun store is protected from lawsuits in a 2007 fatal shooting at a Kansas City mall. The Kansas City Star reports that the appeals court on Tuesday upheld rulings by a Jackson County (Missouri) judge who threw out lawsuits filed by the families of Luke Nilges and Leslie Noble Ballew, who died in April 2007 when David W. Logsdon went on a shooting spree at the Ward Parkway Shopping Center. The families argued that Shawnee Gun Shop in nearby Shawnee, Kansas, negligently sold the material to Logsdon, who paid with a stolen credit card. The court ruled that products could be used away from the store with no oversight by the gun shop.


State Rejects Proposal to Limit Coyote Hunting

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — The state has rejected a request that it change the way coyotes can be hunted during deer firearms season. The law enforcement arm of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism had asked the agency's Board of Tourism to ban coyote hunters from using two-way radios and hunting from vehicles during regular deer firearm season. It is legal to use the radios and hunt coyotes from vehicles but those practices are illegal for hunting deer during the 12-day firearm season. The Pratt Tribune reports that officers said they had encountered several deer hunters who claimed to be hunting coyotes when they were caught using two-way radios or hunting from vehicles. Spokesman Mike Miller says the commission will review the issue again in January.


1 of 2 Baby Golden Tamarins at Topeka Zoo Dies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka Zoo officials say one of two golden lion tamarins born last week at the zoo has died after it was rejected by its parents. The zoo said in a news release Tuesday that the mother rejected one of the babies two days after it was born July 10. Zoo Director Brendan Wiley said zoo staff tried to care for the baby and persuade either parent to care for it. Both babies were nursing Saturday but on Sunday zoo staff found the baby that had been rejected dead. Wiley said tests are being conducted and zoo officials don't know why the mother rejected the newborn. Wiley said the other baby tamarin appears to be doing well and has been well cared for since its birth.


SE Kansas Woman Pleads Guilty to Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas woman has pleaded guilty to receiving more than $45,000 in federal aid she wasn't entitled to. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a release Tuesday that 48-year-old Jody Gayle Simmons of Arma has pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds. In her plea, she admitted to fraudulently receiving about $45,000 in aid from various federal programs. She also admitted that she falsely reported that her husband moved out of their home so his income would not disqualify her from receiving federal assistance. Simmons faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she's sentenced November 6.


2 Wichita Children Placed in Protective Custody

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say two toddlers are in protective custody after one of the children drank a small amount of bleach at a squalid home. Lieutenant Doug Nolte told The Wichita Eagle that emergency responders were called to the home Monday evening after a 2-year-old girl drank bleach from a cup that was next to a cup of water. Nolte says the child suffered no serious injury from the bleach. The responders called police after finding human feces, trash, a bug infestation and no running water in the house. The 2-year-old girl and her 1-year-old brother were taken into protective custody. Nolte says seven adults live at the residence, but it was unclear if the parents of the children are among that group.


Woman Pleads Not Guilty in Husband's Death

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A Pittsburg woman has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband. Carla Moutz entered the plea Monday to one count of first-degree murder in the May death of 49-year-old John Moutz. The trial was scheduled to begin October 7. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that the trial is scheduled for Girard but potential construction at the Crawford County Courthouse may relocate the trial to Pittsburg. John Moutz died at Pittsburg hospital after being shot at a home where his wife was staying. The home was owned by Carla Moutz's father.

Plea Agreement Reached in Accomplice Shooting Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man avoided a second trial by reaching a plea agreement in the shooting death of his accomplice during a home robbery. Thirty-two-year-old Terrell Cole pleaded guilty last week to involuntary manslaughter in the January 2011 death of Andre Lovett. He had been scheduled to go on trial July 29 for first-degree murder. Wichita police say Cole and Lovett were trying to rob a home when Cole fired a shot at one of the victims as he ran from the scene. The bullet hit Lovett, who died the next day. The Wichita Eagle reports that the jury in Cole's first trial split in favor of acquitting Cole on several charges, including murder, but convicted him of tampering with electronic monitoring equipment.


UPDATE: Prosecutor Says Kansas Man Amplified Power of Explosives


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A prosecutor told jurors in his opening statement that a Kansas man added chemicals to gunpowder to increase the explosive power of grenades he was making. The government outlined its case against Alfred Dutton, of Eureka, in federal court Tuesday in Wichita. The 67-year-old veteran of both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines is charged with possession of unregistered destructive devices. His attorney in his opening remarks said his client was working on creating of a mock grenade that he was planning to sell on eBay. He portrayed his client as a tinkerer who was experimenting with also making fireworks. An explosives expert for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms testified about all the explosive materials and ammunition found during a 2011 search of Dutton's apartment in Eureka.


Some Lawmakers Seek to Halt Sale of NY's Plum Island and Lab

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — Some federal lawmakers are trying to stop the sale of New York's Plum Island, home to the only national government laboratory studying diseases harmful to livestock. The New York and Connecticut lawmakers announced the legislation on Tuesday. Congress voted in 2009 to close the aging lab and move operations to Kansas State University. President Barack Obama's latest budget includes $714 million for the project. Kansas officials are selling bonds to pay for it. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says it's important to ensure that future generations can enjoy the island's environmental and recreational benefits. Democratic Representative Timothy Bishop of Long Island calls it one of the natural treasures of the Northeast. 


Judge Limits Evidence in Kansas Explosives Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has limited the government from presenting evidence of the survivalist beliefs of a Kansas veteran accused of possessing unregistered destructive devices. The ruling came before the start of jury selection Tuesday in the trial of Alfred Dutton, a 67-year-old veteran of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines. Authorities found hand grenades during a 2011 search of his Eureka apartment prompted by a tip from his ex-wife's boyfriend. Dutton was preparing for the collapse of the world economy by stockpiling supplies, nonperishable foods, firearms and other items. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten told attorneys that he is not going to let them try the case on Dutton's beliefs. He said the government may present evidence only directly related to the manufacture of destructive devices.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 


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