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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, January 1, 2014


KS Slightly Ahead of Tax Revenue Target for December

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas revenue officials say the state took in $3.3 million more in taxes than anticipated in December and collections met expectations for the past six months. The Department of Revenue reported Tuesday that the state collected $550 million in taxes in December, when the state's official financial forecast predicted less than $547 million. The surplus is 0.6 percent. From the start of the current fiscal year in July through December, the state collected $2.74 billion in taxes, or $4.3 million more than anticipated. The surplus is about 0.2 percent. However, tax collections this year are running about 9 percent behind collections last year because of income tax cuts enacted last year. Tax collections were $603 million in December 2012 and $3.02 billion from July through December 2012.

Regents to Reconsider New Social Media Policy

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents is taking another look at a new social media policy that was devised in the wake of criticism about a journalism professor's anti-NRA tweet. A news release Tuesday says that board chairman Fred Logan is requesting a workgroup to review the policy. Under it, a university chief executive officer can discipline employees, up to termination, for social media communications that affect the university's ability to carry out its functions. But faculty and education groups have criticized the policy, saying it is too broad and will stifle free speech. The regents approved the measure unanimously in the wake of a tweet by University of Kansas journalism professor David Guth after the September shootings that left 13 dead at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

KS Statehouse Renovation Nearly Complete

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — After 13 years of renovations, the Kansas Statehouse is ready to welcome new generations of visitors to the seat of state government. The project's final phase included an auditorium, a classroom, thousands of square feet of exhibition space and a visitors' center, complete with an oversized map of Kansas. A ribbon cutting will take place Thursday to open the new space. A formal ceremony to mark completion of the $330 million renovation project is scheduled for January 29. The Statehouse was built over 37 years beginning in 1866. Visitors will enter the building from the north at the ground level and proceed through the visitor center and into limestone corridors that are the foundation.

Former Linebacker's Mother Sues Chiefs for Wrongful Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The mother of former Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the team after exhuming his body so that his brain could be examined. The lawsuit, filed by Cheryl Shepherd in Jackson County circuit court Tuesday, alleges that Belcher was subjected to "repetitive head trauma" and that the Chiefs failed to provide adequate medical care before he killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide last December. Belcher's body was exhumed this month at his family's request so his brain could be studied for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative condition found in some former players. Shepherd is seeking a jury trial and $15,000 in damages. A spokesman for the Chiefs told The Associated Press that the team was aware of the lawsuit but could not comment on pending litigation.


Husband 'Appalled' Someone Stole Dying Wife's Ring

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man whose wife died from a brain aneurysm this week says he is appalled that someone removed her wedding ring from her finger and stole other items while she sat unconscious in her vehicle in a Taco Bell drive-thru. The Wichita Eagle reports that Danielle Zimmerman went to pick up dinner Sunday night when her pickup truck struck the speaker box and came to a stop in the drive-thru. Her husband, Kris Zimmerman, says he heard there were nine people gathered around his wife after the vehicle stopped. Police recovered Danielle Zimmerman's purse after children found it while sledding. The thief is believed to have taken $150 in cash, some of her credit cards and her iPhone. Kris Zimmerman asks that anyone who saw the theft come forward.


Stash of Stolen Auto Parts Found in Great Bend

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in central Kansas are sorting through at least $10,000 worth of stolen auto parts and equipment found at a property in Great Bend. The Hutchinson News reports that the Barton County Sheriff's Office discovered the stockpile Monday while executing a search warrant. Sheriff Brian Bellendir says the goods were stolen from Russell, Reno, Rush, Lincoln and Saline counties as well as Barton County. Officers from some of the other counties are helping with the investigation. Among the stolen items are tires, wheels, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and engines. The sheriff says returning the goods to their owners could be difficult if the serial numbers have been removed. No arrests had been made by Tuesday as the investigation continued.


KS Girl Who Was Shocked in Rain Dies in Nebraska

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 12-year-old girl Salina who was shocked in May while dancing in the rain in downtown Salina has died in a Nebraska hospital. The Salina Journal reports that Jayden Hicks was 11 on May 29 when she was playing with friends during a thunderstorm in Campbell Plaza. She was shocked when she came into contact with the metal covers of in-ground electrical junction boxes in front of the plaza. She died Tuesday morning in Lincoln, Nebraska of respiratory failure. Her father, Jaymie Hicks, posted a Facebook message saying Jayden died at 3:56 am. Her aunt, Kim Queen of Inman, told KWCH-TV Jayden's death was heartbreaking, but that she wasn't suffering anymore. In September, old wiring was removed from the city-owned electrical system in the area where Jayden was shocked.


Police Identify Homeless Man Found Dead in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A homeless man found dead under a Wichita bridge has been identified as 61-year-old Donald L. Hipsher. The Wichita Eagle reports police released the name Tuesday. Hipsher had apparently been living under the bridge where officers on a welfare check found the body Sunday afternoon. Results of a toxicology test are pending, but police Captain Brent Allred said a coroner determined Hipsher died of hypothermia and heart problems. Hipsher is the 10th homeless person known to have died in Wichita in 2013.


Police Search for Vehicle Linked to Nebraska Fire

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) — Police in Kearney, Nebraska are looking for a vehicle involved in an explosion or a fire that left a Kansas woman with significant burns. Kearney police say they received a report on Tuesday evening that burning items had been dumped in an alley. Around the same time, authorities learned that a woman had been burned at the same location. Sergeant Tony Cordova tells the Kearney Hub that witnesses described a fire or explosion, and that a red 1998 Ford Taurus with Kansas license plates 206FUF left the scene. The Kansas woman was transferred to the burn unit at St. Elizabeth's Regional Medical Center in Lincoln. She's in critical but stable condition. Cordova says two others may have also been injured, and officers are looking for them.


Parents Charged in Death of Salina Infant

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina couple will have public defenders as they face charges of first-degree murder in the death of their infant son. The Salina Journal reports 27-year-old Nicholas Corbin and 20-year-old Desirah Overturf made their first court appearances Tuesday by video from the Saline County Jail. Police were called to their home the night of December 26 and found Jordan Jeremiah Corbin dead. The baby was two months and 27 days old. Nicholas Corbin initially told District Judge Patrick Thompson on Tuesday that he was considering pleading guilty. The judge urged him instead to at least talk with a public defender. Prosecutors also asked the judge to appoint a lawyer for Overturf. Investigators have not revealed how the baby died. Bond for both defendants is set at $1 million.


KC Crime-Reduction Program Hopeful About 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Leaders of a program aimed at reducing crime in Kansas City are hopeful that lessons learned in 2013 will mean less violence in 2014. The Kansas City Star reports that the Kansas City No Violence Alliance uses a "focused deterrence" crime prevention strategy that that has been successful in other cities. The idea is that police and prosecutors focus on the small number of people responsible for the majority of violent crimes. Often, those people are affiliated with gangs or loosely organized criminal groups. They and their associates are told that violence no longer will be tolerated. But along with that law enforcement deterrent comes an enticement of social services help for those seeking a chance to escape from the criminal life.


KS Women Use Stars From Worn Flags to Honor Veterans

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two Wichita-area women are using well-worn American flags to honor U.S. troops and veterans. The Wichita Eagle reports that Alicia Gordon and Anne Newkold take part in a national project called Stars for Our Troops. It involves carefully removing embroidered stars from the flags. The women then put the stars in small bags and give them away, along with a note. It reads: "I am part of our American flag that has flown over a home in the U.S.A. I can no longer fly. In the sun and wind, I have become tattered and torn but not forgotten. Please carry me as a reminder that you are NOT forgotten." Newkold says the effort is a way to say "thank you."


Program Promotes Safe Cycling in KCK

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A program aimed at encouraging self-reliance and physical activity among poor inner-city youths not only provides them with bikes, but also teaches them to maintain their refurbished rides. The Kansas City Star reports that 25-year-old Ben Alexander was working at a community center when a seventh-grader started asking questions about how he biked to and from work. The boy said they should fix up bikes for children because few in the neighborhood have them. Since 2011, more than 1,000 have graduated since 2011 from the FreeWheels bike safety classes that Alexander has taken to Kansas City, Kansas middle schools, apartment complexes and social service agencies. And hundreds have been given bikes through the group's Earn-a-Bike program, where kids learn how to take apart bicycles and put them back together.


$1M Raffle Ticket Sold in South-Central KS

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Lottery says a $1 million ticket has been sold in south-central Kansas. Lottery officials announced Tuesday that the winning Holiday Millionaire Raffle ticket number is 120298. Besides the $1 million prize, there were 25 winners of $5,000, 25 winners of $1,000, and 2,500 winners of $100 in Tuesday's raffle drawing. Kansas Lottery Interim Director Sherriene Jones-Sontag says raffle players should check their tickets immediately. Winners have 365 days from the date of the drawing to come forward. Lottery prizes of $1,000 or more must be claimed at Lottery headquarters in Topeka, either in person or by mail. Players can take their $100 winning tickets to any Kansas Lottery retail location to claim their prize. Lottery offices will be closed on New Year's Day.


Chiefs' Bowe Cleared to Play; Fisher Hurts Groin

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has been cleared to play in Saturday's wild-card playoff game against Indianapolis after sustaining a concussion against the Colts two weeks ago. Bowe was among several starters held out of last week's overtime loss at San Diego. Kansas City could be without right tackle Eric Fisher, the number-one overall pick in last year's draft. He strained his groin near the end of Tuesday's practice and was not working Wednesday. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali's status also remains up in the air. He's been dealing with some inflammation in his knee that has kept him out of practice the last couple of weeks, though he planned to try working out during Wednesday's practice.



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