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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, June 18. 2013



Report: Kansas K-12 Spending Short of Requirements

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state Department of Education report shows that Kansas legislators have authorized school spending for the next two years that is more than $650 million below what is required by law. The report was included as part of the State Board of Education's June meeting agenda but discussion was omitted after additional time was devoted to academic standards. Deputy Commissioner of Education Dale Dennis's report shows the difference between what the state is required by law to spend on public schools and what was authorized for fiscal years 2014, which begins July 1, and again in 2015. The figures have been known for some time and a district court has ordered legislators to make up the differences in spending. The Kansas Supreme Court is reviewing that order.


Kobach: Court Ruling Won't Block Kansas Voter Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says the state's proof-of-citizenship requirement for new voters can still be enforced after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against a similar Arizona law. Kobach says the Kansas law differs enough from Arizona's version that the high court's Monday decision doesn't apply to Kansas. County election officials in Kansas said they were waiting for guidance from Kobach. But Kobach's position could prompt a federal lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union. The law took effect in January and applies to people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas. They must provide a birth certificate, passport or some other proof of citizenship. The Supreme Court said the Arizona law conflicted with federal voting laws.

Kansas Secretary of State Seeks Investigation into Protest

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has asked for an investigation into an immigration reform protest held outside his Wyandotte County home. Kobach said Monday he has contacted state and Wyandotte County officials seeking an investigation into the protest held Saturday outside his Piper home. Event organizer Sunflower Community Action says about 300 participants chanted and left several shoes at Kobach's door to represent deported parents. Kobach has built a national profile presenting tough policies on illegal immigration issues. He and his family weren't home during the protest. Kobach told The Associated Press he wants authorities to investigate to determine if protesters violated laws on trespassing or other issues. Kansas City, Kansas police spokesman Tom Tomasic says the department is reviewing the case to determine if any laws were violated.


Kansas Judge Quashes Subpoena of Wichita Reporter

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has tossed out a subpoena seeking to force a Wichita Eagle reporter to testify about contacts he had with attorneys for inmates who claim they were sexually abused by a former guard. The Wichita Eagle reported that Judge Joe Kisner on Tuesday quashed the subpoena filed by attorney Charles O'Hara, who represents the former jail guard. O'Hara argued the reporter emailed a news release sent out by O'Hara to an attorney representing victims in the pending civil case. O'Hara claimed the email opened the door to questions about conversations the reporter had with the attorneys. The newspaper said the release was sent to the plaintiffs' attorney in an attempt to seek comment. The Eagle cited the state's reporter's shield law in seeking to quash the subpoena.

Kansas National Guardsmen Returning from Afghanistan

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Members of a Kansas National Guard helicopter unit are on their way home from Afghanistan after a year of providing medical support. A welcome-home ceremony is scheduled Tuesday for about 20 members of Detachment 2, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment. The event is scheduled for 12:30 pm today (TUE) at the Salina Army Aviation Support Facility. Guard officials say the Black Hawk helicopter unit deployed last July 15th. Members trained in Texas before heading to Afghanistan. The unit's duties included aeromedical evacuation, transport of patients and medical personnel and other support functions.

Kansas House Speaker Names New Legislative Director

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick has hired an attorney in the secretary of state's office as his new legislative director. Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, said Monday that B.J. Harden will join his staff in July. Harden will replace Wade Hapgood, who recently was promoted to chief of staff. Merrick's former chief of staff, Christie Kriegshauser, left to take a job with the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Harden has worked in the secretary of state's office since August 2011. He also serves as a volunteer deputy executive director for the Kansas Republican Party. He received his law degree last year from Washburn University in Topeka.

Land Institute Hires Former Kansas Agriculture Secretary

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas agriculture secretary has joined the Land Institute, which seeks to create a new sustainable agriculture that minimizes environmental damage. The Salina Journal reports that Josh Svaty, a farmer from Ellsworth County, former state lawmaker and state agriculture secretary from 2009 through 2011, joined the Land Institute on Monday as a vice president. He'll work on public policy issues, promote the institute's pursuit of natural systems agriculture and raise money. Land Institute founder and president, Wes Jackson, says Svaty can pull from his wide area of public experience in furthering the goals of the Salina-based Land Institute. A native of Ellsworth County, Svaty served three full terms in the Kansas House. He resigned during his fourth term to take the job as Kansas Secretary of Agriculture.


Topeka Jewelry Store Owner Arrested

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka jewelry store owner has been arrested on charges that include possessing stolen property. WIBWNewsNow reports that the owner was arrested and booked into the Shawnee County Jail last week. He was later released. Topeka Police Captain Brian Desch says the department is investigating the owner for charges including conspiracy to possess stolen property, conspiracy to commit burglary, regulation of pawn brokers and criminal solicitation to commit burglary. The Shawnee County prosecutor's office says it's investigating the matter but that no formal charges had been filed as of Tuesday.


Wichita Approves Delay on Concealed Guns Law

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Wichita won't allow people with permits to bring concealed firearms into public buildings until at least early next year. A Kansas law taking effect July 1 allows people with concealed-carry permits to take weapons into public buildings unless the buildings have adequate security in place. But cities and counties can exempt their buildings for six months. KFDI-FM reports that the Wichita City Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday for such an exemption. Wichita officials say the delay will allow time to study the security needs for the more than 280 city-owned buildings and properties. The county commission in surrounding Sedgwick County is also considering a six-month exemption.

KCK Utility Investigating Man's Electrocution

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas utility company is investigating reports that a downed power line at a public park was left unattended for more than 11 hours before a man was electrocuted. The Board of Public Utilities is trying to determine when it was notified and who received the calls that a power line was down after a storm Saturday hit Rosedale Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Twenty-seven-year-old Nicholas Moeder of Shawnee died after tripping over the wire while playing disc golf early Sunday. The Kansas City Star reports that a volunteer at a disc golf tournament says he called 911 about the power line at 4 pm Saturday. Tournament officials say they called BPU three times around 10 pm Saturday after noticing the line was still down.


Man Goes on Forklift Joyride in Wichita, Injuring 1

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a man broke into a business and injured an employee while recklessly driving a forklift. The man fled after the incident early Tuesday at Bodycote Thermal Processing in south Wichita. He has not been captured. Police say three employees returning to the business from a break found the man sitting on a forklift. When they asked him to leave, he began driving the forklift around the warehouse, intentionally hitting several objects. One employee suffered a broken leg and cuts when he was pinned by the forklift. Police say he is in fair condition Tuesday at a Wichita hospital. Lieutenant Doug Nolte says the man didn't say anything while he was driving the forklift. He had no known ties to the business or its employees.


Man Maimed in Accident at Tyson Foods Plant

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson police say a man lost part of his arm in an industrial accident at the Tyson Foods plant in Hutchinson. Lieutenant John Moore says the man's arm was caught in a conveyor belt and he was pulled in the machine on Monday afternoon. He lost his arm from about the elbow down. The Hutchinson News reports that the man was taken by medical helicopter to Via Christi's St. Francis in Wichita. The man's identity has not been released.

Report: 11 Percent of Kansas Winter Wheat Ripe

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report estimates that just 11 percent of the Kansas winter wheat is now ripe, with harvest in much of southern Kansas just days away. The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that last year by this late in the season, 97 percent of the crop had ripened. The average for this time of year is 44 percent. The agency also rated wheat condition as 45 percent poor to very poor. Twenty-seven percent was reported in fair condition while 24 percent was in good and 4 percent in excellent shape. The weekly snapshot of Kansas agriculture also showed that 98 percent of the corn crop had emerged. Its condition was rated as 8 percent poor to very poor, 31 percent fair, 54 percent good and 7 percent excellent.

Lawrence Officials Take Aim at Bed Bug Problem

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence officials are taking aim at a bed bug problem that's emerging at apartment complexes with new rules allowing the city to tell people how and when to exterminate the critters. City code enforcement manager Brian Jiminez says bed bugs are becoming an issue at apartment complexes because of the large turnover in tenants. The tiny insects can cause health problems because they bite their victims and suck their blood, sometimes without being noticed. The Lawrence Journal-World  reports that the City Commission was expected to approve a new property maintenance code Tuesday. The code could require people to hire a licensed professional to deal with bed bug issues, rather than take care of the problem themselves.

Wichita Man Sentenced to 4 Years for Homicide

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who was a fugitive for nearly two years was sentenced to more than four years in prison for a Wichita homicide. Thirty-two-year-old Donald L. Jackson was sentenced Monday to four years and five months in prison for killing 44-year-old Leroy Fields in May 2009. Police say Fields died after being shot by two masked men at his Wichita apartment. Jackson was caught in Baltimore in September 2011 after a routine traffic stop. Jackson was charged with murder but pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in March as part of a plea deal that included dropping charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated battery.

Lansing Officials Looking for Escaped Minimum Security Inmate

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — State corrections officials are looking for a minimum security inmate who escaped from the Lansing Correctional Facility. The Kansas Department of Corrections says 43-year-old Paul D. Cohagen was discovered missing from the prison Monday evening. Cohagen is a white male with hazel eyes and brown hair. He's 6-feet tall and weighs about 160 pounds. He was sentenced for burglary in Osage County.


Kansas Nursing Board to Celebrate 100th Anniversary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas State Board of Nursing plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding with a meeting and reception next month. The events are scheduled July 1 at the Landon State Office Building, east of the Statehouse in Topeka. The board currently licenses about 62,000 nurses. The Legislature created it in 1913 to regulate nursing, and the board had its first meeting that year. The board's 11 members are appointed by the governor to four-year terms, with three non-nurse members.


TV Deal Will Expand KU Athletics Coverage

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas says it has approved a deal that will expand live coverage of Jayhawks athletics across Kansas. The deal between Kansas Athletics, IMG College, Time Warner Cable and Kansas City's Metro Sports was announced Monday. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, Metro Sports will televise more than 50 live Kansas events on the revamped Jayhawk Network, along with 600 hours of programing such as pre- and post-game shows for Jayhawk football and men's basketball games and a weekly magazine-style show. The deal includes radio show simulcasts, a social-media-centered show for fans, highlight shows and quarterly Kansas academic specials. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that KU is the last Big 12 school to enter such a deal for its television rights.

Sprint Sues to Stop Dish Clearwire Buyout

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Sprint Nextel is suing to stop Dish Network's buyout offer for wireless data network operator Clearwire. The nation's third-largest cellphone carrier says the proposed deal violates the rights of Sprint and other Clearwire shareholders. Dish is offering to pay $4.40 per share for Clearwire Corporation, which has recommended that its shareholders approve the offer. That reverses its earlier stance in support of a takeover bid by Sprint, its majority shareholder. Dish says its offer is contingent on being able to buy 25 percent of the company. Sprint Nextel says Dish cannot complete its offer without the approval of Comcast Corporation and holders of at least 75 percent of Clearwire's shares. Sprint says the deal also violates shareholder rights under Clearwire's charter and an equity holders agreement.


Prosecutor to Appeal Sentence in Fatal DUI Crash


MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A prosecutor says he'll appeal the probation given to Kansas State University graduate student for a head-on crash that killed two people. KMAN-AM reports that Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson filed notice Tuesday that he'll seek prison time for 24-year-old Miles Theurer. The veterinary medicine student pleaded no contest in May to two counts of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol. Theurer was driving a pickup truck that crashed into a car the morning of May 14, 2012. The collision killed the car's occupants, Michael Stanley and Elizabeth Young. A Riley County judge on Monday sentenced Theurer to 60 days in jail followed by 36 months of probation. But Wilkerson says that under Kansas law, Theurer's conviction carries a presumptive sentence of 38 to 43 months in prison.

Kansas Man Convicted of Killing 3 Relatives in Missouri

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A southeast Kansas man could face the death penalty after being convicted of murdering three of his relatives at their home in west-central Missouri. KOLR-TV reports a Clay County jury recommended the sentence Saturday for 47-year-old Robert Blurton of Garnett, Kansas. The same jury convicted Blurton late Friday of first-degree murder in the shootings of his aunt and uncle, Donnie and Sharon Luetjen, and their 15-year-old granddaughter, Taron Luetjen. The killings took place in June 2009 at the couple's home in Cole Camp, Missouri. The trial was moved from Benton County to Clay County because of extensive publicity. Investigators said Blurton killed the three after a robbery. Sentencing is scheduled for August 9th. Online court records show Blurton's lawyer plans to file a motion for a new trial.


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