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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, November 20, 2012


National Group to Protest Kobach Policies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — About 50 college students who are in the U.S. illegally have marched on Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office urging him to stop working on immigration laws and to do his state job. The students from Kansas and Arizona delivered a letter Tuesday to a staff member, who said Kobach was in his office but unable to meet with the students. The students are members of the DREAM Act Coalition. The DREAM Act would create a citizenship path for residents who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Kobach is a Republican and former law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He has helped shape immigration policies around the country, and continues to litigate immigration issues in other states while serving in his Kansas position.

Kansas Appeals Court Attorney Fired over Objectionable Tweet

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas appeals court attorney has been fired after using offensive language in a tweet about the state's former attorney general. Sarah Peterson Herr was a research attorney for a Kansas Court of Appeals judge. She posted her comments about former Attorney General Phill Kline to Twitter last week while Kline was appearing before the state Supreme Court as part of an ethics investigation. Herr commented on Kline's facial expression, saying "Why is Phil Klein (sic) smiling? There is nothing to smile about, douchebag." Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said Monday that Herr had been fired and her case was referred to other offices for possible ethical violations. Herr has apologized and said she didn't realize her posts were visible to all Twitter readers.

Another Dry Week Stresses Emerging Kansas Wheat Crop

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The government's weekly snapshot of Kansas crops shows nearly a quarter of the emerging winter wheat faring poorly. Monday's report from the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service notes the state continues to receive only scant moisture. The agency says only 13 of 53 reporting stations recorded any precipitation last week, and most of those got only a trace. Ninety-five percent of the winter wheat had emerged by the end of last week. Twenty-four percent was rated in poor to very poor condition, with 46 percent rated fair, 29 percent rated good and 1 percent in excellent shape. The dry conditions did allow farmers to speed toward completion of the fall harvest. Ninety-seven percent of the soybean crop and 96 percent of the sorghum have now been cut.


Survey Gives Baseline on Kansas Children's Status

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University researchers have completed a report on baseline data on childhood poverty that will be used in efforts to improve the lives of children, including reducing the number of births to unwed mothers. The data was presented Monday as a new task force created by Governor Sam Brownback begins its work finding ways to reduce childhood poverty in Kansas. The task force includes members of the Republican governor's cabinet, nonprofit organizations and the clergy. The K-State report ranked all 105 Kansas counties based on 18 indicators, including the percentage of children in poverty, divorce, employment and births to unwed mothers. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a senior fellow from the Brookings Institution says births to unwed mothers was a leading cause of poverty.

City Seeks Councilman's Removal over City Hall Security Breaches

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — Officials in a suburban Kansas City community have asked the Johnson County District Attorney to remove a City Council member for letting a homeless friend sleep at City Hall. KSHB reports that Prairie Village Councilman David Morrison was the focus of an ethics hearing Monday night. A formal complaint says Morrison gave his security access code to longtime friend Kelly Malone and lied to police dispatchers twice about why Malone was in the building. Morrison escorted Malone into City Hall on two nights, and on the third Malone returned there on his own. Police found Malone hiding in the men's locker room. He told officers he has had drug problems and was recently released from Johnson County Jail. Morrison apologized Monday and said Malone's life was being threatened.


2 Bins Collapse at NW Kansas Grain Elevator

OAKLEY, Kan. (AP) — No injuries are reported but a lot of corn is on the ground after two grain bins collapsed at a northwest Kansas elevator. The Hays Daily News reports that the exterior walls of the two concrete bins at one end of the Frontier Ag Incorporated elevator annex in Oakley gave way around 2:30 pm Tuesday. Emergency personnel said all employees were accounted for. Frontier Ag grain marketing manager Ben Brandvik says each bin could hold about 25,000 bushels when full. He said the far end of the elevator was not very full when the walls crumbled, although a witness reported seeing a large of amount of spilled corn. Brandvik says insurance adjusters are surveying the damage to determine when it will be safe to start cleanup. The cause of the collapse is under investigation.

Helicopters & Soldiers from Fort Riley to Train in Colorado

FORT CARSON, Colo. (AP) — Fort Riley is sending 29 helicopters and nearly 300 soldiers to Colorado's Fort Carson for high-altitude aviation training. Soldiers and aircraft from the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Combat Aviation Brigade will train at Fort Carson and in the mountains west of the post from November 26 through December 14. The helicopters include Kiowas, Apaches and Blackhawks.


Kansas Bioscience Authority Hires New President

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former top executive at Topeka-based Payless ShoeSource has been chosen to head the Kansas Bioscience Authority. Authority officials announced the selection of Duane Cantrell as president and CEO on Tuesday. He'll replace David Vranicar, who became interim president after former president and CEO Tom Thornton resigned under pressure in 2011. The Kansas Bioscience Authority is charged with investing in and nurturing new companies in the biosciences and life sciences fields. Cantrell is currently the managing partner of a retail consulting firm. Before that, he spent 26 years at Payless ShoeSource, where he was president from 2001-2004. Authority Board chairman Dan Watkins says Cantrell became a candidate after serving as a consultant in recent months. Watkins said Vranicar would stay on with KBA in a capacity to be determined.


Minor Injuries Reported in KC Metro Bus Crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say several people sustained minor injuries when a Kansas City Area Transportation Authority bus collided with two cars on Bannister Road near U.S. 71. The crash happened around 7:45 am Tuesday in the westbound lanes of Bannister Road when the bus pulled away from a bus stop and collided with a car trying to make a left turn onto Bannister. Police say the car was pushed into a second car. Six ambulances were sent to the scene, but police say all of the injuries appeared to be minor. Two children were among those taken to a hospital.

New McPherson Program Puts Pastors in Police Cars

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — Pastors could soon be a fixture in McPherson police cars in a program designed to give officers an understanding ear and help in high-stress situations. Two local ministers currently are participating in the new program, and several others are expected to join as auxiliary members. KWCH reports the pastors will be there to talk to officers on an informal basis and help with things like death notifications, which can be highly emotional. Police Lieutenant Jerry Montagne says he wishes such a program had existed several years ago, when officers had to tell family members their loved one committed suicide. The Police Department is working on a procedures manual for the program and hopes to have it finished by the end of the year.

Dead Deer Causes Wichita Police Car Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita hope drivers will heed the lesson from an officer's accident involving a dead deer. KWCH-TV reports the officer was heading out on a call around 4 am Sunday when she swerved to miss a large object in the road. The officer spun out and struck a cable barrier in the median. She was unhurt, but the patrol car was badly damaged. The large object turned out to be the body of a deer that had clearly been hit by another vehicle. Police say the accident is a reminder that motorists who hit an animal should call authorities, so the hazard can be removed from the roadway.

October Kansas Jobless Rate Falls to 5.7 Percent

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says the Kansas unemployment rate continues to decline. The state Labor Department said Monday that unemployment fell to 5.7 percent in October from 5.9 percent in September. Last month's figure is also down sharply from a seasonally adjusted 6.6 percent in October 2011. September's figure marked the first time since December 2008 that Kansas unemployment was below 6 percent. Interim Labor Secretary Lana Gordon says she's encouraged by the latest report. But a Labor Department economist says the slow pace of seasonal hiring shows a tentativeness in the economy.


Southwest Airlines to Offer Wichita Flights

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Southwest Airlines says it will begin service in June from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The Wichita Eagle reports the carrier said Monday it plans to have two daily flights from Wichita to Dallas Love Field, along with two daily flights to Chicago Midway Airport. It also plans one daily flight to Las Vegas. Wichita officials welcomed the announcement as a boon to the city's economic development efforts. Southwest plans to use a 143-seat Boeing 737 for its Dallas and Chicago flights and a 127-seat 737 for the Las Vegas flights. One-way rates are expected to range between $94 and $178. Bob Montgomery, the company's vice president for airport affairs, says the airline may initially use public subsidies to mitigate its risk, but hopes business grows so they aren't needed.

Hawker Beechcraft Customers Balk at Accelerated Plane Liquidation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A bankruptcy judge has sided with a group of Hawker Beechcraft customers who objected to the Kansas aircraft maker's plan to immediately sell off its inventory of discontinued Hawker 4000 jets. Hawker Beechcraft wanted to sell the inventory quickly because it believes the value of the discontinued planes will continue declining as competitors introduce new aircraft. The Committee of Hawker 4000 Customers argued in a court filing Monday that the 20 aircraft normally retail at about $20 million, amounting to $400 million. The customers argued there's no reason to rush the sale of assets. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stuart Bernstein cited the committee's objection in rejecting the company's request. The judge says Hawker Beechcraft failed to identify any imminent sales or explain how the failure to obtain an expedited hearing will affect sales.

Hutchinson Students Break Hula Hoop Workout Record

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson students have officially set a Guinness World Record for the number of people working out with Hula Hoops, but organizers acknowledge that feat might not last long. Students at Hutchinson Magnet School broke the record in May with 290 people participating in the workout, eclipsing the former record of 232 participants set in April by a group in England. The Hutchinson News reports that local workout coordinator Michelle Clinage received confirmation of the record late last week, but students weren't being told about it until Tuesday morning. Parent-Teacher Association vice president Joanne Miller says the accomplishment might be marked with a banner inside the school or a message on the sign outside. Clinage says the record is vulnerable, and she might eventually try to beat it with another group.

Kansas City Lighting Tradition to Mark 83rd Year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Three players from the Major League Soccer team Sporting Kansas City will help light up the Country Club Plaza on Thanksgiving night. Matt Besler, Kei Kamara and Jimmy Nielsen will flip the switch that turns on more than 250,000 lights outlining buildings in Kansas City, Missouri's upscale shopping and dining district. The festivities also will include fireworks and musical performances. The Plaza lighting ceremony is in its 83rd year and regularly draws tens of thousands of people. This year, the lights will shine daily from 5 pm to 3 am through January 13. Sporting Kansas City played in Missouri until moving to Livestrong Park in Kansas City, Kansas.


71-Year-Old Missouri Man Admits Bank Holdup

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 71-year-old man has pleaded guilty to holding up a Kansas City bank. The U.S. Attorney's office says Raymond Paris, of Sugar Creek, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years following his plea Tuesday in federal court. Prosecutors said Paris approached tellers at a branch of Metcalf Bank on July 5, pulled a nylon stocking over his face and told them to fill two envelopes with money. The tellers activated a silent alarm before handing Paris the envelopes containing nearly $8,500 in cash. Kansas City police found Paris the same day at his home in the small suburb. He was arrested when he came outside to get a cigarette the officers had placed on his deck. Paris told police he had a BB gun when he committed the holdup.

Jury Awards Hallmark $31 Million in Trade Dispute

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal jury has awarded Kansas City greeting cards giant Hallmark Cards Inc. $31.3 million in damages from a company that misappropriated inside information. The Kansas City Star reports that Monday's ruling came after a two-year trial that capped seven years of dispute between Hallmark and Monitor Clipper Partners. Hallmark hired Monitor Company Group of Massachusetts in 2001 to help redesign Hallmark's business model. Four years later sister company Monitor Clipper Partners said it was acquiring a Hallmark competitor, Recycled Paper Greetings. An arbiter ruled in 2007 that Monitor Company Group had breached its confidentiality agreement, and the company agreed to pay Hallmark $12.5 million for breach of contract. Monday's award for misappropriation of trade secrets is the final lawsuit in the dispute.

Election Rekindles Hope for Wind Energy Credit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The re-election of President Barack Obama is rekindling hopes among wind energy supporters for the extension of the production tax credit for the industry. Obama strongly backs alternative energy. Democrats also gained seats in the Senate and House this election. The Wichita Eagle reports the American Wind Energy Association has predicted that losing the credit will lead to 37,000 layoffs as demand for new wind turbines and wind farms drops sharply. The credit expires Jan. 1. The conservative-dominated U.S. House has opposed reviving the wind energy subsidy. Two Republicans in the Kansas delegation — Mike Pompeo and Tim Huelskamp — contend the tax credits distort the free market. But industry officials say the political mood may be shifting to allow a short-term extension before the end of the year.




KC's Matt Besler Voted MLS Defender of the Year

NEW YORK (AP) — Sporting Kansas City's Matt Besler has been voted Major League Soccer's Defender of the Year. Besler received 71 percent of weighed ballots added from team, media and player votes. San Jose's Victor Bernardez was second with 64 percent, the league said Tuesday, followed by Kansas City's Aurelien Collin (48 percent), Vancouver's Jay DeMerit (23 percent) and Philadelphia's Carlos Valdes (16 percent). Silviu Petrescu was voted referee of the year with 121 percent, followed by Baldomero Toledo (99 percent) and Armando Villarreal (79 percent).



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