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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, June 5, 2012



Kansas to Resubmit Medicaid Waiver Request 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas plans to resubmit a request to the federal government for permission to overhaul the state's $2.9 billion-a-year Medicaid program. State officials said Tuesday they want to solicit additional comments about the overhaul from Indian health clinics in Lawrence and White Cloud. Governor Sam Brownback's administration said the move won't change plans to issue contracts this summer to three private insurers to manage Medicaid, which covers health care for the poor, disabled and elderly. The contracts would start in January. The state needs the federal government to waive Medicaid rules. Kansas filed a request in April. Brownback's administration acknowledged the Indian clinics weren't formally notified of the state's plans as it consulted with leaders of the four tribes with Kansas reservations. Two public hearings are planned.


KCK Superintendent Details Aftermath of State Education Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas school superintendent Cynthia Lane says her district has had to drop programs and staff because of state cuts in education funding. Lane was on the stand for the second day  of the Shawnee County District Court trial of a lawsuit filed by more than 50 districts alleging the state is not meeting a constitutional requirement to provide suitable education to every student. She told the three-judge panel hearing the case that the district has tried to mitigate the reductions as much as possible. But she says the reductions are beginning to impact student achievement in the district, where 88 percent of the district's students qualify for free school lunches. Attorneys for the state were scheduled to cross-examine Lane later Tuesday.


7 KS Lawmakers Subpoenaed over Meetings with Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor has issued subpoenas to seven legislators he wants to question about private meetings between lawmakers and Governor Sam Brownback. Brownback hosted seven private dinners in January at his official residence with lawmakers from 13 House and Senate committees. The Republican governor has expressed confidence that the gatherings did not violate the Kansas Open Meetings Act. But Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, a Democrat, is investigating the meetings and wants to talk to some of the lawmakers. Senator Susan Wagle received a subpoena ordering her to appear Thursday in district court in Topeka. Wagle said Tuesday she considers Taylor's investigation a waste of time. The Wichita Republican also said she's arranging to answer questions by phone so she doesn't have to travel while undergoing treatment for cancer.


Most Incumbent KS Lawmakers Seeking Re-Election

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — About 75 percent of incumbent Kansas legislators have filed for re-election, despite uncertainty about boundaries for their districts. All 40 state Senate seats are up for grabs in November, and the secretary of state's office reports online that 27 senators have filed to run again. The latest was Dwayne Umbarger, a Thayer Republican. Ninety-eight of the 125 House members have also filed for re-election. The latest include veteran Republicans Forrest Knox of Altoona and Bill Otto of LeRoy, and longtime Democratic Representative Bill Feuerborn of Garnett. The filing deadline is noon on June 11. But candidates don't yet know how legislative districts will be redrawn to account for population changes over the past decade. Legislators failed to pass any redistricting proposals this year, leaving the job to three federal judges.

Manhattan Police Investigating 4 Arsons

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Manhattan authorities are working to determine if four arsons that occurred in one day are related. Manhattan fire officials say the four arsons were all reported early Monday, causing a combined loss of more than $22,000. The Manhattan Mercury reports the fires were reported at an unoccupied apartment and in three vehicles. Two of the vehicles were damaged but the third was completely engulfed in flames and destroyed. The fire at the apartment caused minor damage after it was extinguished by a neighbor. No one has been arrested.

Governor Brownback Orders Flags Lowered Statewide for Soldiers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has ordered flags lowered to half-staff throughout the state Thursday to honor three soldiers killed last year in Afghanistan. Sergeant Alexander J. Bennett, Specialist Spencer C. Duncan and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryan J. Nichols were among 30 U.S. military personnel who were killed last August when their helicopter was shot down. The three soldiers were assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, U.S. Army Reserve, based at New Century, Kansas. Nichols was from Hays. Bennett and Duncan were from Olathe. All 30 service members will be honored Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery.


Building Housing Salina Health Department Closed

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The future of the Salina-Saline County Health Department is unclear after its building was closed because of concerns its roof might collapse. Salina city commissioners voted Monday to approve a contract that will temporarily move the department to two buildings owned by Salina Regional Health Center. Salina building officials closed the building Thursday after inspectors said its roof was in danger of collapsing. The Salina Journal reports the building is about 95 years old. The health department has used it since 1994. The county owns the building and the city maintains it. After the structure was closed, the city's search and rescue team and some rural fire departments spent three days building 10 support structures to reinforce it.


Jury Selection Opens for Riley County Capital Murder Trial

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Potential jurors are being questioned in Riley County for the capital murder trial of a man accused of killing his girlfriend and their son. Twenty-four-year-old Luis Aguirre has pleaded not guilty in the deaths of 18-year-old Tonya Maldonado and the couple's 15-month-old son. A hunter found their buried bodies in a shallow grave near Ogden in October 2009. KMAN-AM reports the trial is scheduled to begin June 18. Jury selection began Tuesday and will continue through the week as the pool is narrowed to 42 potential jurors. Prosecutors and defense lawyers will then strike some of the candidates until they settle on 12 jurors and two alternates. This is the first capital murder trial in Riley County since Kansas reinstated the death penalty.


Appeals Court Throws Out Conviction of Man Nabbed by Phony Drug Checkpoint

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court says the reaction of drivers to phony drug checkpoints set up by law enforcement is not sufficient grounds to justify stopping vehicles. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday for a man who was searched and arrested after exiting Interstate 70 after the Kansas Highway Patrol posted signs warning of a drug checkpoint ahead. Dennis Neff was sentenced to five years after pleading guilty to one count of traveling in interstate commerce with intent to distribute cocaine. Neff argued the stop was illegal because troopers lacked a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The Court of Appeals panel threw out his conviction, ruling the trial judge wrongly rejected Neff's motion to suppress the evidence.


KS Woman Pleads No Contest in Death of Newborn Son 

IOLA, Kan. (AP) — A southeastern Kansas woman will be sentenced next month for the unattended death of her son within hours of his birth. The Iola Register reports prosecutors will seek the maximum sentence of slightly more than 13 years in prison for 23-year-old Karen Bailey, of Le Roy. Bailey was initially charged with first-degree murder in the death of Benjamin Edward Riggs-Geisler. She pleaded no contest last week to second-degree murder. Coffey County Attorney Doug Witteman says the charge reflects that the death resulted from an act of omission. Investigators said Bailey gave birth on April 2, 2011, while en route from Iola to her home in Le Roy, then left the baby alone in her car for several hours until he died. Sentencing is scheduled for July 5.

KS Man Dies in Riding Mower Accident

CONCORDIA, Kan. (AP) — A rural Concordia man died after he was pinned under a riding lawn mower while mowing a neighbor's lawn. The Cloud County Sheriff says passing motorists tried to help 63-year-old Bob Johnson, but he died at a hospital after the accident on Saturday. Johnson was mowing a steep slope near the road when the mower tipped over and rolled, landing on top of him. Witnesses were able to get the mower off of Johnson but he died at the hospital.

Dodge City to Host Symposium on 'Fracking' Activity

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A daylong conference on oil and gas activity in parts of western and south-central Kansas will be held June 19 in Dodge City. The Kansas Department of Commerce says the region was considered to have been tapped out by vertical drilling. But the agency says hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — has the potential to increase oil and gas activity significantly. The free symposium is intended to bring together people from communities affected by drilling and let them hear from industry experts. Panel discussions will focus on housing, education and public safety; public infrastructure and health care; and workforce issues. Panelists will include community officials from Oklahoma and North Dakota. An executive of Chesapeake Energy will give an overview of horizontal fracturing. Sponsors include the Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation.



Paraeducator Sentenced to Probation in Student Sex Case

CLEARWATER, Kan. (AP) — A paraeducator who worked in the Clearwater school district will serve one year of probation for having sex with a student. Thirty-four-year-old Amber Dull was sentenced Tuesday. The Wichita Eagle reports Dull pleaded guilty last month to one count of unlawful sexual relations with a 17-year-old male student. Dull worked with special-education students in the high school as an employee of the Sedgwick County Area Educational Services Interlocal Cooperative.


Ex-Cowley County Treasurer Worker Makes Plea in Theft

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — A former employee of the Cowley County Treasurer's office will serve 18 months of probation after pleading guilty to three charges involving theft of funds from the office. Diana Jo Blatchford entered the plea Monday to criminal deprivation of property. She had originally been charged with 10 counts. Blatchford also agreed to pay $1,172 in restitution. Prosecutors said between March and June 2011, Blatchford took county money on three separate occasions. The Winfield Daily Courier reports Blatchford was an auto license clerk in the office from November 2006 to July 2011.


KC Family to Receive $3 Million in Son's Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City family whose mentally disabled son was killed during a gas station disturbance in 2010 is getting $3 million in a settlement with three oil companies. Lawyers for Vanessa Boykin and Frederick Jones Sr. announced the deal Monday in Jackson County (MO) Circuit Court. The Kansas City Star reports Frederick Jones Jr. was 21 and suffering from schizophrenia when a clerk allegedly shot him at a south Kansas City convenience store September 3, 2010. Lawyers say a 34-year-old man charged in his death, Akbar Rana, fled the U.S. before local prosecutors charged him with voluntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. Lakhani Commercial Corporation, Sunshine Energy LLC, and the Shell Oil Company agreed to the settlement.

Platters Founder Herb Reed Dies at Age 83

BOSTON (AP) — Herb Reed, the last surviving original member of the 1950s vocal group the Platters, has died. The group's hits like "Only You" propelled them to stardom. His manager says Reed died Monday in a Boston area hospice after a period of declining health. He was 83. Reed was a Kansas City, Missouri native who founded the Platters in Los Angeles in 1953. Reed sang bass on the group's four No. 1 hits, including "The Great Pretender," ''My Prayer," ''Twilight Time" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." Reed was the only member of the group to appear on all of their nearly 400 recordings. He continued touring, performing up to 200 shows per year, until last year. The Platters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Feds Charge Canadian Man Who Took Kansas Girl Out-of-State

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have filed charges against a Canadian man found in Michigan last week with a 12-year-old Kansas girl he met on the Internet. The U.S. attorney's office says 20-year-old Stewart Kenneth Cody McGill of Bewdley, Ontario, was charged Monday with transporting a minor out of state to have sex. Authorities say McGill traveled to the south-central Kansas town of El Dorado to meet the girl. Her parents reported her missing Thursday afternoon. They were found Friday near Potterville, Michigan, southwest of Lansing. The girl told authorities she went with McGill willingly. According to court documents, McGill told police he met the girl online playing "World of Warcraft" and loved her. Prosecutors in Kansas didn't have information Monday on a lawyer for McGill. He remained held in Michigan.

Olathe House Representative Released from Meetings Investigation Subpoena

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House member has been released from a subpoena issued by a district attorney investigating private meetings of lawmakers with Governor Sam Brownback. Olathe Republican Scott Schwab says he was released Monday after signing a statement saying he didn't attend a private dinner in January at Cedar Crest, the governor's residence. A spokesman for Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor confirmed that Schwab no longer faces the subpoena. Taylor, a Democrat, is investigating seven private meetings the Republican governor had with lawmakers. Brownback invited more than 90 lawmakers, all but one a Republican, grouping them by their memberships on 13 committees. Brownback has said he's confident the gatherings did not violate the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Schwab said he's still upset about being subpoenaed.

5 KS Judges Chosen to Hear Former KS AG's Ethics Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas Court of Appeals judges and three district court judges have been appointed to hear a disciplinary case against former Attorney General Phill Kline. The judges appointed Monday will sit with two state Supreme Court justices to review the case. The high court's five other justices removed themselves last month, citing their previous knowledge of the allegations. A complaint accuses Kline and former subordinates of misleading other officials to further investigations of abortion providers. Kline strongly disputes the allegations. Supreme Court Justice Dan Biles, one of the two remaining to hear the case, named the replacements. They are Court of Appeals Judges Karen Arnold-Burger and Henry W. Green Jr. and District Judges Edward Bouker of Ellis County, Bruce Gatterman, of Pawnee County, and Michael Malone, of Douglas County.

Filing Claims Letter Threatening Abortion Doctor Was 'Divinely Inspired'

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas abortion opponent accused of sending a threatening letter to a Wichita doctor is claiming that her message was "divinely inspired." Angel Dillard made the assertion in a recent filing in federal court. The Valley Center woman is being sued by the U.S. Justice Department under a law aimed at protecting access to abortion services. Authorities say Dillard wrote to Dr. Mila Means last year warning her to check daily under her car because someone might place an explosive there. At the time, Means was training to offer abortions in Wichita. Dillard contends the lawsuit violates her freedom of speech and religion. She has filed a counterclaim. No abortions have been openly performed in Wichita since Dr. George Tiller was killed by an abortion opponent in 2009.

KS Man Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run Accident

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas motorist has been charged in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian in Kansas City, Missouri. The Jackson County (MO) prosecutor's office says 33-year-old Aldo Rivera-Campillo of Overland Park is charged with involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. The victim is identified as 51-year-old Stephen Reedy, whose body was found in a Kansas City street about 3 am Saturday. A witness saw the damage to Rivera-Campillo's car and told him to pull over. Police said they found him in the driver's seat smelling heavily of alcohol. Police say Rivera-Campillo told investigators he had been drinking and later thought he hit something in the road. No lawyer was listed Monday for Rivera-Campillo in electronic court records, and no phone number in that name could be found.

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