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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, October 1, 2013


KS Governor Says State Is Braced for Shutdown

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says his administration has been preparing for the possibility of a federal government shutdown, taking steps to make sure services continue in Kansas. The Republican governor, a former member of the U.S. House and Senate, says Tuesday that the state had built up cash reserves to keep operations that depend on federal support running. Spokeswoman Eileen Hawley says agencies were encouraged to draw down any federal funds they could ahead of the shutdown to get them through a short-term interruption. The largest impact on state operations was with the Kansas adjutant general's department, where several hundred people who are federal full-time military staff will be idled. The adjutant general's department includes National Guard and emergency management functions for the state.


Man in Custody After Long Standoff in Winfield

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — A man is in custody and will have a mental evaluation after a standoff that lasted nearly eight hours in south-central Kansas. KAKE-TV reports that the standoff at a home in Winfield began around 8:30 am Tuesday. The man was upset with his family and fired several shots into the air, but had already gone back inside the home by the time police arrived. Officers from several police and sheriffs' departments responded, along with a Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent who lives in Winfield. The man surrendered peacefully around 4 pm. He's described as being in his 30s and possibly suffering from mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder.


Kansas National Guard Hit by Federal Shutdown

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Seven-hundred Kansas National Guard personnel are being sent home as the impact of the federal government shutdown takes hold. Major General Lee Tafanelli, adjutant general of the Kansas National Guard, says Tuesday that the furloughs affect about one-third of the Guard's federal employees. The soldiers perform a variety of administrative, maintenance and unit readiness functions. Many of the employees were furloughed during the summer because of related federal budget issues. Tafanelli says the government shutdown could also force the cancellation of weekend drills for National Guard units, a decision that will be made in next day. The general says ongoing budget problems are likely to have an impact on soldier and unit readiness that will take time to restore, depending on the length of the federal impasse.


Federal Shutdown Hits Kansas Sites

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two photocopied pieces of paper taped to the front door of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site are letting visitors in Topeka know the building is closed because of the federal government shutdown. Across Kansas, thousands of government employees were reporting to work Tuesday to prepare their offices for the shutdown, which officially began shortly before midnight. The lack of a resolution to the federal budget means thousands of employees at the Army's Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth will be furloughed until a new spending bill is approved. Employees were being notified which positions would be impacted. The shutdown is also affecting the state's National Historic Sites, like the Brown building in Topeka, which honors the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark school desegregation ruling in 1954.


Kansas Official Advises Patience on Health Exchanges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Insurance Department official is advising consumers in her state to be patient in trying to buy health coverage through a new online insurance marketplace. Linda Sheppard said Tuesday that glitches with the rollout of major new technology wouldn't be unusual, even without the partial shutdown of the federal government. Sheppard is the state Insurance Department's health policy director. The online health insurance exchange for Kansas is being run by the federal government. Kansas consumers may be experiencing delays as they go online to buy health insurance coverage. Kansas 1st District Congressman Tim Huelskamp declared that the exchange was not ready when it opened. The marketplace website for Kansas was available midmorning Tuesday but a message said enough people were visiting that logging in could take time.


Kansas Reacts to Opening of Health Care Exchanges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Advocates of the health care overhaul have seemingly coalesced around a unified message for Kansas consumers. They urge people not to rush to enroll until glitches in the system are worked out in the coming weeks. Some Kansas health care groups still have not hired all the "navigators" for which they have been awarded federal grants to explain the plans. Some are still training many other new hires. Some material like Spanish-language pamphlets ordered in June have not arrived yet. Enrollment began Tuesday. Consumers have until December 15 to enroll if they want their coverage to start in January. Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger urged the public to give the exchanges time to work out the bugs. 

Group Rallies on Country Club Plaza as Missouri Health Exchange Opens

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group backing President Barack Obama's agenda is handing out information as the new online health insurance marketplace opens. Organizing for Action will promote the exchange Tuesday night at the J.C. Nichols Parkway at the Country Club Plaza. The group formed out of Obama's re-election campaign also is offering volunteer training to help guide people to the appropriate resources. The online insurance exchange in Missouri is being operated by the federal government after state lawmakers and then voters rejected a state-run system. Consumers have until March to enroll, or by December 15 if they want coverage starting January 1. The online marketplaces are for those who don't receive employer-sponsored health coverage or certain residents eligible for workplace plans but looking for better deals.


Colorado Will Pay Soldiers Rebuilding Flooded Road

DENVER (AP) — Colorado will pick up the tab for National Guard engineers helping rebuild the main highway leading to Rocky Mountain National Park because of the federal government shutdown. Governor John Hickenlooper said Tuesday that Colorado will use its flood disaster fund to pay the 120 soldiers working on U.S. Highway 36 in hopes that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will later agree to reimburse 75 percent of the cost. He expects the state share to be between $10,000 and $20,000 a day. A bill passed by Congress protects payments for active-duty personnel but Colorado officials don't believe that covers soldiers assigned to training missions building roads. Still undecided is whether Colorado will also pay Guard members from Kansas, Utah, and Wyoming who are scheduled to be brought in later to do road work.


Kansas Taxes Fall Short of Expectations in Past 3 Months

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says Kansas collected slightly less in taxes than expected in the first quarter of the fiscal year, but officials believe the shortfall may actually be a positive economic sign. The Department of Revenue reports that the state collected $1.37 billion in taxes from July through September, about $8.5 million below expectations. Corporate income tax collections during those three months fell nearly 12 percent short of projections. The state had expected to take in $97 million and instead collected less than $86 million. The department says the shortfall might reflect businesses buying more equipment than expected and claiming bigger tax breaks as a result.

Bond Set at $1M for Suspect in Developer's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Bond has been set at $1 million for a man charged in the January 2012 shooting death of a Topeka developer. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that divers were searching a lake for evidence when the bond amount was set Monday for Monroe Eugene Lockhart III. The 40-year-old is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 39-year-old business partner, Corey M. Brown. Lockhart also faces a felony arson charge in Shawnee County. Lockhart already was serving a nearly 10-year sentence for a home invasion. Prosecutors said last week that Brown was shot on the grounds of White Lakes Mall before his body was moved to Douglas County. The arson charge is tied to the burning of Lockhart's car. Defense attorney Linda Eckelman didn't immediately return a phone call.

Overland Park Drive-By Shooting Injures Child

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — An 8-year-old boy has been injured in a drive-by shooting in suburban Overland Park. The Kansas City Star reports that the boy was shot late Monday when a gunman fired into the boy's home. The child was in the home with his mother and two other children when the shooting occurred. Police say the boy was taken to a hospital with injuries that don't appear life-threatening. The shooting is under investigation, and police say there had been no arrests as of Tuesday morning.


Wyandotte County Jail Inmates Sue over Mail Policy

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Two inmates at the Wyandotte County jail have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the sheriff of violating their rights by limiting their mail to post-cards only. The ACLU Foundation of Kansas says the lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. The lawsuit is seeking class-action status. The sheriff's department did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday. In the lawsuit, inmates Tyrell Jackson and Randall Chapman say the Wyandotte County Adult Detention Center restricts inmates to sending and receiving correspondence on post cards. They contend the post-card only policy severely restricts their free speech rights, as well as the rights of their friends and family to communicate with each other. Doug Bonney of the ACLU says the lawsuit is seeking an injunction against the policy.


Kansas Says Summer Program Served Over 1M Meals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Education says a summer program served more than 1 million meals to needy children while public schools were out of session. The agency says that when its final numbers are tallied, it expects the number of meals served to be more than 11 percent higher than it was last year. Meals were offered at public schools and at sites run by camps, nonprofit groups and local government agencies, with the state reimbursing those organizations. Children up to 18 years old could receive both breakfast and lunch. The program takes the place of meals programs in public schools when they are in session.


Creekstone Workers Will Be Paid During Fire Cleanup


ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Production workers at Creekstone Farms packing plant in Arkansas City will continue getting paid while crews clean up from a fire. The Arkansas City Traveler reports that Creekstone officials were meeting Tuesday with fabrication, slaughter and ground beef department employees to share the news. General counsel and human resources director Doug Mackay says he needs employees to stay until full production resumes. Mackay says Creekstone is carrying out limited activities this week and plans to ramp up production each day. The cause of the fire hasn't been determined. It broke out Wednesday on the east side of the plant in fabrication and refrigerated storage areas. Flames were spread by a product conveyor belt. Creekstone Farms processes beef at the plant about 45 miles southeast of Wichita.


Officials Skeptical About Wichita Oil Drilling

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A proposal to drill for oil below downtown Wichita's Century II convention center isn't dead but faces major obstacles. The Wichita Eagle reports that driller Trek AEC has offered alternative approaches. They include direct drilling on the Century II site or nearby, including a pipeline that could conceivably pass near the WaterWalk downtown development. The alternatives were proposed after protests led the city to withdraw its application to the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission last month to drill from Delano neighborhood under the Arkansas River to Century II. It's unclear whether a repackaged drilling proposal would have a chance. Several council members say the idea probably should be shelved — for now.

Man's Body Found in South-Central Kansas


KECHI, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a man's body was found in a ditch near the Sedgwick County town of Kechi. KAKE reports that a man walking his dog found the body in a ditch Monday morning. Lieutenant Dave Mattingly of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says the man has been identified as 23-year-old Deandre Freeman Jr. He said it's too early to tell how Freeman died, but the death is being investigated as a homicide. Investigators are looking into the activities of the victim from September 27 to September 30. Authorities also are looking for a 1990s model, Black Ford Probe. Anyone with information is asked to call authorities.


Brownback Urges Communities to Fight Obesity

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is urging communities to fight obesity, saying people are eating themselves to death. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Brownback's comments came Monday during the second annual Kansas Obesity Summit in Topeka. Brownback urged health care advocates from across the state to take a local approach to combating obesity that focuses on incentives and events. As an example of incentive-based health efforts, Brownback cited his Governor's Weight Loss Challenge. In that event, he and a team of four others set a weight-loss bar and then encouraged other teams of five state employees to try and beat it. Those that did shared a $30,000 prize pool donated by sponsors. Brownback also praised 10K races and other local events that get communities talking and training together.

Governor Presents Kansas Health Awards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas nurse and the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department have been honored for their efforts over the past year to make residents healthier. The awards were presented Monday during Governor Sam Brownback's Kansas Obesity Summit in Topeka. Earning the top individual honor was Lisa Moritz, who serves as the Unified Greeley County health nurse and nurse for the Greeley County school district. Moritz was noted for promoting health and physical wellness through a variety of programs open to students and school personnel. The Lawrence parks department was cited for having more than 450 programs, including numerous park and outdoor trail activities. The department has also helped residents transform vacant properties into community gardens to provide a local source of fruits and vegetables.

Officials Worry About Shooting in KCMO Jazz District

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A weekend shooting in Kansas City's 18th and Vine Jazz District has officials rattled. The Kansas City Star reports that the early Saturday shooting left four people wounded in an area that is usually free of violent crime. The concern is that street violence could undo efforts to rebuild the neighborhood and market the area as a family-friendly entertainment venue. Jazz District Redevelopment Corporation treasurer Peter Yelorda said what happened is "not good" and that another incident like it would leave the district with "another obstacle to overcome." The district has struggled despite $80 million worth of investment. At Monday's regular meeting of the Jazz District Redevelopment Corporation, board members said immediate steps must be taken to ensure visitors don't steer clear of the district and that residents don't leave.

Billboards of Scout Sculpture Taken Down in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two artist-created billboards showing a rifleman pointing at an iconic Kansas City sculpture of an American Indian on horseback have been taken down. The Kansas City Star reports that the billboards from artist A. Bitterman drew complaints after they went up last week in the Crossroads Arts District near downtown. They were supposed to remain on display until October 21, but were removed Monday. Kansas City Indian Center outreach coordinator Moses Brings Plenty had opposed the work as a symbol of racism and hatred. He said he was "very glad" the billboards were gone. Bitterman rented the billboards and said on his website that "The Scout" sculpture shown on them depicts what whites wanted the American Indian to be. He says his work is "confronting that narrative."

Survey: Manufacturing Growth Likely to Aid Midwest Economy

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new survey of business leaders in nine Midwest and Plains states suggests that manufacturing growth will help fuel the regional economy through the end of the year. The overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index climbed for a second straight month in September, rising to 54.8 from 53.8 in August. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says growth among durable-goods manufacturers more than offset some pullbacks among nondurable-goods producers and value-added service firms. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth, while a score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.


Royals Manager Yost Gets 2-Year Extension


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals and manager Ned Yost have agreed to a two-year contract extension after wrapping up an 86-76 season, the best finish for the franchise in 24 years. Yost's contract was set to expire after the 2012-2013 season, and the Royals announced the extension on Tuesday. Yost has been the manager in Kansas City for the past four years, and has been instrumental in helping to bring along one of the youngest rosters in the major league. Progress was evident after the All-Star break this season, when the Royals went 43-27 down the stretch. That allowed the Royals to get into playoff contention. They were eliminated from the American League wild-card race in their penultimate series of the season. Yost is 741-831 in 10 seasons as manager of the Brewers and Royals.



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