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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, November 5, 2013


UPDATE: Venue Disputed for Suit over KS Voter ID Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach is embroiled in a legal dispute over which court should hear a challenge to a Kansas law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. Kobach's office moved successfully to have the lawsuit transferred from state court to federal court. Kobach said Tuesday that the lawsuit raises federal voting law issues. But Wichita attorney Jim Lawing responded with court filings that denied he's raising federal issues in representing two northeast Kansas residents challenging the photo ID requirement. Lawing asked to have the lawsuit returned to Shawnee County District Court. Lawing represents Arthur Spry and Charles Hamner of Overbrook. They're retirees, and their votes in the November 2012 general election weren't counted because neither had a government-issued ID card with a photograph.


Most of Tardy KS Lawmaker's Compensation Claim Rejected

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislative committee has rejected most of a state senator's request for pay for a meeting he nearly missed by arriving late. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kansas City Democrat David Haley appealed to the joint claims committee after failing to receive $291 for his salary, expense allowance and mileage for a December 2012 meeting of another panel. The claims committee said Monday that Haley should receive only $73 for mileage. Haley's claim was for a session of the joint health care oversight committee. Haley arrived shortly before it ended. Committee Chairwoman and Topeka Republican Senator Vicki Schmidt took the unusual step of blocking Haley's compensation. Lawmakers aren't supposed to be paid without attending at least half a meeting, but Haley noted that the committee shortened its session unexpectedly.


Hallmark Dropping Party Wares, Cutting 225 Jobs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hallmark Cards says will eliminate at least 225 jobs by doing away with its party ware business and streamlining parts of its greeting card operation. The Kansas City Star reports 125 to 150 jobs will be cut over the next 15 to 20 months by eliminating party wares, which Hallmark says weren't meeting revenue expectations. An additional 100 positions will be axed this year through streamlining. Hallmark has about 3,200 employees in Kansas City and roughly 12,000 worldwide. It says the staff reductions will include severance packages for those who lose their jobs, while some workers may be reassigned to other positions within the company.


KS GOP to Hold Convention in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Republicans will hold their biggest gathering of 2014 in Wichita. The annual GOP convention will take place January 24 and 25 and is tied to Kansas Day, the January 29 anniversary of the state's admission to the union in 1861. Two days of meetings are scheduled for the Friday and Saturday nearest the anniversary. The party announced Wichita as the site Monday, saying a full schedule will be released as the event nears. Hundreds of party activists and elected officials usually attend. Through 2011, the event was held each year in Topeka. But the Republican state committee decided to rotate it among the state's four congressional districts. The 2012 convention was held in Overland Park, and this year's gathering took place in Hutchinson.


1 Dead, 1 Arrested in Lawrence Shooting

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police have arrested a male suspect on suspicion of first-degree murder in a fatal shooting in the northern part of the city. Officers went to a home on a report of a shooting around 8:45 am Tuesday and found one adult dead. A male suspect was taken into custody. Police said in a news release that the male was arrested and taken to the Douglas County jail after being questioned. The victim and the suspect are described as having had a domestic relationship. Their names and ages were not released Tuesday. Investigators were preparing to forward the case to the county prosecutor, who will file any charges.


KS Professional Groups Seek Mortgage Fee Repeal

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers will be asked during the upcoming session to repeal a fee on mortgage loans that bankers and real estate agents call an unfair tax that duplicates other charges in the loan process. The Hutchinson News reports counties receive about $47 million annually from the mortgage registration fee, charged to borrowers who purchase real estate. The Kansas Bankers Association and Kansas Association of Realtors say counties already collect a document recording fee, so the mortgage charge is unnecessary. Opponents of the mortgage registration fee say it's an obstacle in the Kansas City metro area because Missouri doesn't impose such a fee, which would be about $315 on a $121,000 loan. Legislation to repeal the charge is expected to be introduced in the 2014 legislative session.


State of KS Recommends Dredging Redmond Reservoir

BURLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — State water officials are recommending a plan to dredge the John Redmond Reservoir in Coffey County, which has been filling with silt for decades. Besides offering recreation, the 50-year-old reservoir on the Neosho River near Burlington supplies backup water to 14 communities in southeast Kansas. It also supplies water to two smaller lakes that feed cooling towers at the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the proposed dredging could become a model for managing other federal lakes in Kansas that also have silting problems. The Redmond reservoir has lost about 1,000 surface acres and nearly half its volume since it was completed in 1964. Tracy Streeter, head of the Kansas Water Office, says a contract to dredge the lake is tentative until funding can be found.


$5,000 Reward in Great Bend Animal Cruelty Case

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The Humane Society of the United States is offering up to $5,000 for information in the death of a cat that was decapitated in Great Bend. Great Bend police found the body of a male cat missing its head and front paw on October 26. Great Bend Police Lieutenant David Bailey says evidence indicated the cat's body parts were cut off. The Humane Society says in a news release that a donation from a board member enabled the organization to double its standard cruelty award to $5,000.


KS Slaying Suspect Convicted in Nebraska Police Chase Case

TECUMSEH, Neb. (AP) — A 33-year-old Kansas slaying suspect has been convicted of five felony charges stemming from a shot-filled police chase in southeast Nebraska. Johnson County (Nebraska) court records say Michael Engstrom pleaded no contest on Monday to intentionally or knowingly attempting to cause serious injury by firing at five officers while fleeing from a robbery in neighboring Pawnee County. He also pleaded no contest to two Pawnee County charges. Prosecutors dropped 16 other felony charges in exchange for Engstrom's pleas. His sentencing is scheduled for January 13. Kansas authorities say Engstrom and his wife, Jamie, are suspected of killing a Topeka man and wounding a woman on the afternoon of February 13 before fleeing north into Nebraska. Jamie Engstrom has been given five years in a Nebraska prison.


CA Men Admit Roles in Kansas Cargo Theft Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two California men have admitted their part in the attempted theft of beef from a Kansas slaughterhouse. Prosecutors say the case exemplifies a relatively new form of identity theft in which suspects pose as a legitimate trucking firm to steal cargo. Fifty-three year old Oganes Nagapetian pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Wichita to conspiracy to commit interstate shipment fraud. His 50-year-old brother, Tigran Nagapetian, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony for lying to Kansas state troopers and concealing his brother's actions. Both are from North Hollywood, California. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot set sentencing for January 27. Federal prosecutors charged the brothers with the attempted theft in 2011 of packaged beef valued at $87,500 from the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Holcomb.


Salina Approves Athletic Complex at Kansas Wesleyan

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Salina City Commission has approved a plan to build a new athletic complex at Kansas Wesleyan University. The commission on Monday unanimously approved plans for a 2,000-seat stadium, a practice field, a press box and new concessions and restrooms. The $7.5 million project also includes the demolition of Glenn Martin Stadium. The Salina Journal reports the complex is expected to be completed next year.


Colorado Man Found Dead at Kansas Truck Stop

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Colorado man reported missing by his family last month has been found dead at a truck stop in central Kansas. The Salina Journal reports that police do not suspect foul play in the death of 67-year-old Terry Hamilton, although an autopsy was planned. A customer at a Salina truck stop along Interstate 70 reported a man in a car in the parking lot Monday afternoon. Hamilton's family in the Denver suburb of Aurora had reported him missing in mid-October. Police said Hamilton's car had been noticed at the truck stop earlier Monday. It wasn't clear if the vehicle had left the lot at any time before Hamilton's body was discovered several hours later.


NORAD Exercise Taking Place over Colorado, Kansas

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AP) — The North American Aerospace Defense Command is conducting an air exercise over Colorado and Kansas. Officials say residents in an area between Hugo, Colorado and Garden City, Kansas may see F-16 fighter jets or Learjet planes participating in the exercise Tuesday afternoon. The exercise, called Felix Hawk, is designed to test the rapid-response capability of NORAD's Western Air Defense Sector. NORAD is a joint U.S.-Canada command responsible for defending the skies over both nations and monitoring sea approaches. Its headquarters are at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Topeka Man Pleads Guilty to Making Pipe Bombs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 36-year-old Topeka man could spend up to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to making a pipe bomb. Joseph E. Rogers entered his plea Monday in Topeka to one count of making a destructive device. He told investigators he used PVC pipe and smokeless powder removed from ammunition to make explosive devices for entertainment value. Rogers and 29-year-old Kyle C. Roe of Topeka were stopped by Topeka police officers on November 12, 2012. When Roe was being taken into custody after police discovered he had an active felony warrant, he told officers he had a bomb in his pocket. Roe pleaded guilty in September to possessing a destructive device. He is to be sentenced November 26, while Rogers has a January 27 sentencing date.


Pharmacist Gets 4 Years for Misbranding Drugs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Tennessee pharmacist has been sentenced to four years in prison for distributing a misbranded Chinese-made drug that was given to kidney dialysis patients in Kansas. The U.S. Attorney's office in Topeka says 53-year-old Robert Harshbarger Jr., of Kingsport, Tennessee also was ordered to pay nearly $850,000 in restitution and a $25,000 fine and to forfeit $425,000. Harshbarger pleaded guilty in May to one count each of fraud and distributing a misbranded drug. He admitted that from 2004 to 2009, he substituted a cheaper Chinese import for an iron sucrose drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Prosecutors say there were no reports of harm, but patients at Kansas Dialysis Services were put at risk because the FDA could not assure the drugs' effectiveness and safety.

KS Army College to Host Educators

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Teachers and principals from around the country are heading to the Army's Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth to study leadership development. The three-day event starts November 13 and is organized by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Thirty educators are participating in what is being called an inaugural event to improve public school leaders. Association executive director JoAnn Bartoletti says in a release that the educators will study the Army's learning model, which focuses on continuous education for soldiers as they advance in their careers and meet changing missions. The symposium will include hands-on exercises, discussions and other activities to make the connection between the Army model and the work of educators in high schools and middle schools.


NTSB Report Fails to State Cause for Fatal Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A preliminary federal report on a Kansas plane crash that killed a traveling California pastor and his pilot does not conclude what caused the aircraft to plummet to the ground 10 minutes after take-off. The Wichita Eagle reports the National Transportation Safety Board report released this week did note that pilots in the area at the time of the October 18 crash indicated there was light to moderate icing conditions above 6,000 feet. The 1975 Cessna Citation was carrying 72-year-old Ed Dufresne and his pilot, 49-year-old Mitchell Morgan, to a speaking engagement in Texas when it suddenly went into a nosedive and crashed near Derby. The report says the flight left Mid-Continent airport in Wichita at 10:07 am and went down at 10:17 am, destroying the plane on impact.


KCMO Hospital Unveils Mobile Dental Unit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City hospital is going on the road to provide dental care to students. Truman Medical Center says its Lakewood hospital unveiled the Mobile Dental Coach on Monday at an Independence elementary school. Nearly $500,000 was raised over two years to purchase and outfit a 40-foot bus to provide dental screenings, X-rays and treatment for students. The money also will pay to operate the bus. The Lakewood hospital's dental practice began providing screenings and basic services to students in the Independence School Districts in late 2011. More than 6,000 students have received care. But until now, that care was provided in whatever space was available in the schools. Independence superintendent Dale Herl says the mobile dental unit will remove barriers for young dental patients.



MO Superintendents Offer Student-Transfer Woes Solution


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group of Missouri school superintendents has developed an alternative to a state law allowing students to transfer from unaccredited to accredited districts. The Kansas City Star reports that under the plan, students in struggling districts could transfer to better-performing schools in their home districts. And after five years of failure, districts could be dissolved and distributed to accredited districts. Twenty leaders from around Missouri drafted the school-improvement plan and provided it to The Star on Monday. The draft says the existing transfer law "is not in the best interest of all students and will not lead to improvement of unaccredited districts." A spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro hasn't yet had a chance to review the proposal.


Missouri Education Dept: KC Charter School Inflating Attendance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri education officials are investigating academic integrity issues and reports that attendance was inflated at a struggling Kansas City charter school. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said in a news release Tuesday that Hope Academy's sponsor, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was notified about the problems Friday. DESE says the charter's board of directors has placed some staff on leave, appointed an interim superintendent and hired an external auditor to look into the concerns. DESE spokeswoman Sarah Potter says one issue is that only 27.4 percent of the school's 636 students were in school during a surprise visit last month, although the school was reporting a 99.5 percent attendance rate. The school's board said in a statement that its swift response shows it is taking the issues seriously.


Construction Supplier Gives $210M to KSU, OSU, OU

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A company that supplies construction materials has split a $210 million stock donation among Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. Oklahoma City-based Dolese Brothers recently announced the gift after completing the stock distribution. The supplier of ready-mix concrete, crushed stone, gravel and sand is using the gift as a way to transfer ownership of the company to its employees. Here's how it works: The company is gradually buying back the stock from the universities. Until the buy-back is complete, the universities own the company, although they have no voting or operational rights. The universities spend the buy-back payments — at least $500,000 annually per school — to help more students earn engineering degrees. The unusual gift was the vision of the company's late owner, Roger Dolese.

KS Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Defense Department says a soldier from northeast Kansas has died after his patrol came under fire in Afghanistan. The soldier was identified Monday as 35-year-old Sergeant 1st Class Forrest W. Robertson, of Westmoreland. The Pentagon says Robertson's unit was attacked Sunday by small-arms fire in Afghanistan's Logar province. Robertson was assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop of the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran said in a statement that Robertson's wife and children live in Hinesville, Georgia., and his mother lives in Westmoreland, northeast of Manhattan.

Report: KS Winter Wheat Planting Nears Completion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says rain slowed fieldwork on farms in southern and eastern Kansas in the past week, while most of the western part of the state remains dry. Monday's weekly update from the National Agricultural Statistics Service pegs winter wheat seeding in Kansas at 96 percent complete. About 86 of the wheat has now emerged. The agency rated wheat condition as 1 percent very poor, 3 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 55 percent good and 5 percent excellent. Among other crops, the agency estimates Kansas farmers have cut 87 percent of the corn crop. Sorghum harvest had reached the 67 percent mark. About 81 percent of the state's soybeans and 60 percent of sunflowers have also been harvested.


KC Chiefs Top AP Power Rankings List

Kansas City, the only unbeaten team in the NFL, is now alone atop The Associated Press power rankings. The Chiefs didn't exactly impress the voters in a 23-13 victory against Buffalo that included two touchdowns from the defense and none from the offense. Some panelists figure Kansas City's 9-0 record will get a test soon enough — as in the next game. The Chiefs, 2-14 a year ago, go to Denver after this week's bye. Alex Marvez of writes that everyone will finally get a good gauge of "how good the Chiefs are" against the Broncos on November 17. Seattle is second after dropping out of a tie for the top spot with Kansas City, and Denver stayed at number 3.


Kauffman Stadium 'Fountain Lady' Granted Iowa Jobless Pay

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa has approved unemployment benefits for a Des Moines woman who was fired after her frolic in a stadium fountain at a Kansas City Royals baseball game. The Des Moines Register says that  25-year-old Jessica McCoy was granted the benefits after a hearing last month. She'd become an Internet sensation after her August 5 antics were recorded at Kauffman Stadium. The YouTube video has been seen more than 147,000 times, and she's been dubbed "Fountain Lady" and "Fountain Mom." She subsequently was fired by First American Bank in the Des Moines neighborhood of Beaverdale. Her manager said she violated company policy barring off-duty conduct that reflects poorly on the bank. At her hearing, McCoy said the incident was blown out of proportion and that she was under the influence of alcohol.



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