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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, October 29, 2013

KPR-News-SummaryHHS Secretary Sebelius to Testify on Troubled Website Rollout

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the public face of President Barack Obama's signature health care program, Kathleen Sebelius has become the target for attacks over its botched rollout. Republicans want her to resign and even some Democrats — while not mentioning Sebelius — say someone should be fired.  For months, Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary, projected confidence that the online health insurance markets would open on time October 1st in all 50 states and that a website that's the key to public enrollments would be ready. Instead, it's been plagued by technical problems.  How much Sebelius knew about the website's problems, and when, are key questions she'll face Wednesday at a House hearing.  Sebelius has acknowledged that the website launch has been rocky. So far, she appears to have the president's backing.


Driver Trapped after Utah Crash Wrote to Family

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A missing Kansas man spent his final days trapped in the wreckage of his van in a rural Utah ravine and wrote goodbye letters to the family he unexpectedly left in early September.  Utah Highway Patrol trooper Gary Riches says 54-year-old David Welch was found on October 18 by a hitchhiker who spotted the crash in a desolate stretch of eastern Utah more than 50 miles from any town.  They believe Welch, a sales representative for Frito-Lay, fell asleep at the wheel of his minivan on Interstate 70 around September 3, a day after he went missing from his home in Manhattan.  Riches says Welch was injured in the crash and unable to get out of the van. They believe he survived for days, maybe weeks, keeping a journal and writing notes to his wife and four sons.


No Charges in KCK Party Bus Death

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — No criminal charges will be filed after a Kansas woman fell to her death from a party bus in Kansas City.  The Kansas City Star reports that the family of 26-year-old Jamie Frecks responded today (TUE) in a statement released through their attorneys.  The statement said the family appreciated the investigative work of the Wyandotte County district attorney's office and understood the burdens of pursuing criminal charges. The family also is pursing civil litigation, and said in the statement that they hope to learn more as discovery continues.  Frecks died while celebrating a friend's bachelorette party May 4 when she fell out of the 1999 wheelchair van-turned-party bus. She fell when the bus' side double doors suddenly opened on Interstate 35 in Kansas City, Kansas, and she was hit by several vehicles.


KS School Enrollment Inches Up in 2013

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Preliminary enrollment figures show the number of Kansas students attending public schools grew by less than 1 percent this fall.  The raw figures disclosed today (TUE) by the Kansas Department of Education were based on the September 20 enrollment count. The figures show there were nearly 460,000 full-time equivalent students attending Kansas public schools.  The figure is different than the headcount enrollment which counts actual students in attendance. However, students who are in kindergarten are counted as halftime students. Actual headcount figures won't be released until enrollment numbers are audited.  Legislators use the number of full-time-equivalent students to base state funding, which is currently $3,838 for the 2013-14 school year.


Fire District Treasurer Accused of Stealing $427K

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former treasurer for a Kansas rural fire district is facing federal charges accusing him of stealing more than $427,000 from his employer over a five-year period and leaving the district unable to pay its bills.  Prosecutors say 67-year-old Holton resident Richard Bontrager was charged today (TUE) with one count of embezzlement. He is accused of making unauthorized transfers from the Mayetta Rural Fire District's bank account into an account belonging to him and his wife at the same bank from 2008 through 2013.  Bontrager, who had served as treasurer since 1994, also is accused of issuing checks with forged signatures of board members payable to a fictitious entity he created.  Nobody answered a phone at his home, and it was unclear in online court documents whether he had an attorney.


KS Man Faces December Sentencing in Shooting

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Manhattan man will be sentenced in December for killing a Fort Riley soldier.  KMAN Radio reports that the sentencing date for 43-year-old Matthew Wilson is set for December 12 in Riley County. Wilson pleaded no contest Friday to one count of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery.  Prosecutors say Wilson began shooting in April as four people left a Manhattan apartment. Twenty-two-year-old Army Sgt. Michael Lowery was killed while two women and a man were wounded.  Authorities said Wilson also unsuccessfully tried to make his way into a bedroom where three people were sleeping, including a small child.  Wilson lived in the apartment building and told a witness that he was tired of the guys partying.


Wichita Store Owner Admits Trafficking in Fake Goods


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita store owner has admitted trafficking in fake luxury items bearing such designer labels as Prada and Chanel.  Glenda Sue Morgan pleaded guilty today (TUE) in federal court to one count of trafficking in goods bearing counterfeit trademarks.  Morgan and her business, The Fabulous Store LLC, were indicted in April on charges of conspiracy and trafficking. In exchange for Morgan's plea Tuesday, prosecutors agreed to drop at sentencing the remaining charges against her and all charges against the store.  Prosecutors allege Morgan sold handbags, wallets, sunglasses and jewelry bearing brand names that were not made by the companies. Investigators seized 400 replica items with a retail value of $14,000. The goods would have been worth $140,000 had the trademarks been genuine.  Sentencing is set for January 17.


Judge Sends 2 Texas Men to Prison for Illegal Deer Hunting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced two Texas brothers to prison for what prosecutors say may have been the largest deer poaching operation in Kansas history.  James Bobby Butler Jr. was the owner and operator of a hunting camp near Coldwater, where his brother, Marlin Jackson Butler, worked as a guide.  James Butler was sentenced yesterday (MON) in Wichita to 10 months in prison and has already paid a $25,000 fine. Marlin Butler received an eight-month sentence with no fine.  The brothers, from Martinsville, Texas, pleaded guilty in 2011 to conspiring to violate a federal law prohibiting interstate transport of wildlife taken in violation of state regulations. James Butler also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.  An appeals court last year ordered new sentences after ruling the district court miscalculated their sentences.


Reser's in Topeka Expands Recall of Packaged Salads

BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) — Reser's Fine Foods has voluntarily expanded a recall of packaged salads from its factory in Topeka.  The company, based in Beaverton, Oregon, took the step over the weekend because the products distributed nationwide and in Canada may be contaminated with listeria, which can cause serious illness.  Symptoms of listeria include fever, headache, abdominal pain and diarrhea. People with weak immune systems, such as young children, elderly people and others can die. Pregnant woman can suffer miscarriage or stillbirth.  The recall was first announced Friday.  The company said in a statement on its website that there have been no confirmed illnesses linked to the products.


KS Woman Admits Embezzling K-State Research Funds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 51-year-old woman has admitted embezzling from Kansas State University's Biosecurity Research Institute while working as an officer manager.  The U.S. Attorney's office says Alma resident Linda Kay Miller pleaded guilty yesterday (MON) to three counts of interstate transportation of fraudulently altered securities.  Miller worked from August 2007 to January 2013 at the institute on the Manhattan campus. The institute receives grants for infectious disease research focused on threats to plant, animal and human health.  Miller admitted altering three checks received by the institute and depositing the funds into a personal bank account.  She agreed in her plea to pay a money judgment of more than $16,000. She could also be fined and given prison time at her sentencing, scheduled for January.


Missouri Youth Coach Sentenced for Child Porn Involving KS Teen

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Parkville, Missouri man who coached youth tennis has been sentenced to 6-and-a-half years in federal prison for soliciting nude photos from a Kansas teenager he was coaching.
The U.S. Attorney's office says 56-year-old Rex Haultain must also pay $15,000 in restitution under the sentence he received yesterday (MON) in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas.  Haultain pleaded guilty in July to one count of soliciting child pornography.  He admitted telling the girl in 2009 that that he found her sexually attractive. He also admitted showing her a pornographic picture of himself in 2010 and asking her for nude photos of herself.  The victim, now 18, read a statement at the sentencing saying Haultain took advantage of her hopes of becoming an outstanding tennis player.


Kansas City-Area Doctor Surrenders Medical License

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City physician and former Boy Scout volunteer has surrendered his Missouri medical license after an oversight board accused him of sexual improprieties.
The Kansas City Star reports that the Blue Springs physician had been scheduled for a hearing today (TUE) in Jefferson City on whether he used his influence as a physician to engage his young patients in sexual activity. But he surrendered his license Monday rather than face further discipline by state regulators.  In an affidavit filed with the state, the physician strongly denied the allegations.  The physician was a leader of a Jackson County troop. He also volunteered for the Kansas City area's Heart of America Council of Boy Scouts as the medical director and ultimately as a member of the executive board.


Names of 2 KS Soldiers Going on DC Memorial

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas National Guard soldiers who died in a suicide bombing in Iraq are being honored by the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington.  The agency will add the names of Sgt. 1st Class Clayton Wisdom and Sgt. Don Clary to a memorial honoring those who have died in service while protecting DIA personnel.  Clary and Wisdom were killed in November 2004 while protecting a contingent of DIA staff and members of the Iraq Survey Group. The soldiers positioned their vehicle between a suicide bomber's vehicle and the DIA staff vehicles traveling in a convoy in Baghdad.  The DIA memorial was created in 1988 and was redesigned in 1999.


Democrat Leaving Race for KS Secretary of State

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City-area businessman says he's dropping out of the race for Kansas secretary of state for family reasons.  Randy Rolston, of Mission Hills, says he plans to endorse former state Senator Jean Schodorf, of Wichita, for the Democratic party's nomination against Republican incumbent Kris Kobach.  Rolston said he's leaving the race because his 94-year-old father has been diagnosed with leukemia.  Rolston is president and co-founder of the Lenexa-based mail order firm Victorian Trading Co. He entered the race at the end of last year and loaned his fledgling campaign $201,000.  Kobach and Schodorf did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment.  Schodorf plans to launch her campaign with a news conference tomorrow (WED) afternoon at the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview in downtown Wichita.


Former Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton Dead at 81

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Former Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton has died.  He was 81.  Skelton was a champion of the military and served 17 terms in the U.S. House before losing a re-election bid in 2010.
He died yesterday (MON) at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia, surrounded by family and friends, including longtime colleague Russell Orban.  The cause was not immediately released, but Orban says Skelton entered the hospital a week earlier with a cough. Oban confirmed Skelton's death to The Associated Press.  The Lexington, Missouri, native was a Democrat and former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.  Skelton lost to Republican Vicky Hartzler in 2010 in western Missouri's 4th Congressional District. He then joined the law firm of Kansas City-based Husch Blackwell, working in its offices in Kansas City and Washington.


Police: Chase Called Off before Fatal Wichita Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say officers ended a chase two minutes before a fleeing motorist was involved in a fatal collision.  Officials say the pursuit ended just after 2am Sunday after speeds reached 60 to 70 mph. The Wichita Eagle reports that the driver of the fleeing van then ran a stop sign and slammed into a car.  Captain Brent Allred says the car's driver, 34-year-old Maria Martinez, was taken to a hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. Her husband was a passenger, and he was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. Two people in the van also were hospitalized.  Allred says one of the people in the van has an outstanding warrant linked to an unsolved 2007 homicide.


Lawsuit Filed over Prairie Village Gun Ordinance

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lieutenant governor candidate is suing over the Kansas City suburb of Prairie Village's prohibition on the open carry of loaded firearms in public places.  The Kansas City Star reports that Libertarian Party candidate Grant Nelson alleges in the Johnson County suit that the ordinance violates the U.S. Constitution and the Kansas Bill of Rights. Under Kansas law, cities can regulate but not prohibit the open carry of firearms.  Nelson lives in Prairie Village and says he faces a heightened risk for attack because of his candidacy.  City officials say they'll defend the ordinance. It doesn't prohibit the open carry of firearms on private property or in private businesses that allow open carry. It also doesn't apply to those who are legally licensed to carry concealed weapons.


Westar Asks Regulators to Allow Prepaid Option

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The state's largest electric utility is asking Kansas regulators for permission to let some customers pay for their electricity in advance.  The Wichita Eagle reports Westar Energy has filed an application with the Kansas Corporation Commission, which will decide whether to allow the prepaid service.  Westar says the pilot program would allow customers to make smaller advance payments, rather than receive a larger bill at the end of the month.  Customers who prepay wouldn't be charged a security deposit, but they would have to dole out an additional $4 per month to participate in the program.  The utility also says it could use its "advanced metering" capability to reduce electric usage to minimum levels for customers with unpaid bills during the winter when service shutoffs are permitted.


Report: KS Winter Wheat Planting Nearly Done

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government snapshot of Kansas farms shows that winter wheat planting is nearing completion amid the harvest of other crops.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that 94 percent of the winter wheat has now been planted. About 74 percent of the crop has emerged.  The report rated wheat condition as 59 percent good to excellent, 38 percent fair and 3 percent poor to very poor.  Progress is also being made bringing in fall-harvested crops.  Corn harvest is 81 complete, while sorghum harvest has reached the 53 percent mark.  About 75 percent of the soybeans have also been cut in Kansas. The sunflower harvest is 47 percent complete.


KS Bank Regulator Resigns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says the state's top bank regulator plans to step down this week to spend more time with his family.  Brownback's office on Monday announced the resignation of Bank Commissioner Edwin Splichal (SPLIH'-kuhl), effective Friday. The governor's office said Splichal is leaving because of an unspecified illness in his family.  Splichal has served as commissioner since March 2011. He had spent 32 years at the First National Bank in Belleville and retired as its president in 2008.  Brownback's office also announced that Deputy Commissioner Judi Stork will serve as acting commissioner. Stork has served as acting commissioner several times in the past.  The commissioner's office regulates state-chartered banks, savings and loans, mortgage companies and other lenders.


Judge Spares Survivalist More Prison Time

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge in Wichita spared a survivalist any more prison time after his attorney argued the man created explosive devices for defense, not for a possible attack.  Alfred Dutton, of Eureka, was sentenced yesterday (MON) to time served for unlawful possession of unregistered explosive devices.  The veteran of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines was convicted in July of having grenades and parts to make destructive devices.  Dutton was initially charged with one count for the grenades and another count for jars of homemade napalm. He pleaded guilty to the napalm count in a deal where prosecutors withdrew the grenades count. But an appeals court overturned the conviction after Dutton had already served 17 months.  Prosecutors then filed a new indictment charging him with possessing the grenades.


Missouri Church Uses Sheep to "Mow" Grass

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City church has decided it's too expensive to hire landscapers to get rid of unwanted vegetation on a steep slope, so it's bringing in someone else's flock to do the job.  KMBC-TV reports St. Paul United Methodist Church in Independence has enlisted a flock of American black-bellied sheep to target-graze the land behind the church.  A miniature donkey named Bosco is serving as sheep herder for the project, which began when the animals arrived Sunday.  Susan Jaster of Storm Rider Farm in Concordia says her sheep can clear up to 100 square feet in a day. She says target grazing is most often seen in Western states, but she'd like to see the practice grow in Missouri, too.







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