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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, January 29


Kansans to Mark Statehood, Dedicate Capitol

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of visitors are making their way to the Kansas Statehouse to mark the 153rd anniversary of statehood and to dedicate the newly renovated Capitol in Topeka. Buses dropped off students who are touring the building and will participate in events at noon Wednesday. Members of the Kansas National Guard were placing howitzers on the grounds that will be fired to mark the celebration. The 13-year renovation cost nearly $330 million and included new ventilation and electrical systems, replacement of the roof and dome, and construction of a visitor center. The project was carried out in phases and financed with bonds. Other Kansas Day events were taking place at the Kansas Museum of History on the west edge of Topeka.


KS Gov Acts to Address Propane Costs, Shortage

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is trying to make sure propane gets to families who need it to heat their homes by easing trucking regulations and directing state officials to provide help to poor families. Brownback announced a series of actions Wednesday to deal with propane shortages and high costs. The national average price for propane spiked earlier this week at more than $4 a gallon, up more than $1 a gallon since last week. Industry and state officials say supplies were depleted after last year's harvest when farmers needed to dry an unusually large amount of grain. Brownback is directing the Department for Children and Families to give priority to propane users in a state program assisting poor families with utility costs. About 83,000 Kansans homes use propane for heat.


Bill to End Kansas Senate Leadership PAC Advances

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee is recommending passage of a bill that would abolish a political action committee led by moderate Republicans that was involved in 2012 elections. The Senate Ethics and Election Committee voted Wednesday to advance the bill. The PAC was led by former moderate Republican Senate leaders, including Senate President Steve Morris. Funds remaining in the PAC's treasury would have to be disbursed to the Republican Party, returned to donors or used for other purposes when the organization ceased to exist. Morris was ousted in 2012 in an election cycle that swept conservative Republicans into power. The bill was introduced during the 2013 session but failed to advance out of committee. Future PACs would have to be a subgroup of the state party.


Feds Seek to Shield Evidence in Suicide Bomb Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors are seeking to limit who can see some evidence in the case of a suicide bomb plot at a Kansas airport, calling the information "far too important" to national security to be made public. In a court filing, prosecutors asked for a hearing on whether to restrict the release of materials provided to the attorneys representing Terry L. Loewen, a 58-year-old avionics technician facing terror-related charges. Loewen was arrested December 13 after a months-long undercover sting when he allegedly tried to drive a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to use of an explosive device to damage property, and attempting to give material support to al-Qaida.


KS Bill Would Require Documentation of Students

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislator wants the state to count and report the number of children in public schools who might be in the country illegally. Representative Allan Rothlisberg, a Republican from Grandview Plaza, on Tuesday introduced a bill that he says would help determine how much taxpayer money is spent to educate children who aren't legal residents. The bill would require a school board to ask for proof of residency when a child enrolls for the first time in a public school. The proof would be a birth certificate, Social Security card or other document. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the state would publish a record of the number of children who didn't provide the proof, and the average per pupil school finance cost.


Lawrence Homicide Suspect to Return to Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old woman charged with killing a Lawrence businessman has agreed to return to Kansas from Florida, where she was arrested over the weekend while camping in Everglades National Park. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Sarah Brooke Gonzales McLinn waived an extradition hearing Wednesday in federal court in Miami. 6NewsLawrence reports that she was being placed in Florida state custody, awaiting a state court hearing. McLinn is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 52-year-old Harold Sasko, who owned pizza restaurants in Lawrence and Topeka. McLinn was an employee, and Sasko's relatives have said he let her move into his home while she was having personal problems. McLinn's family reported her missing around the same time Sasko was found dead January 17 in his home. Douglas County authorities allege Sasko was killed with an "edged instrument" after being subdued.


KS Court Skeptical of Defense in Tiller Shooting Appeal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Supreme Court justices expressed skepticism that a man convicted of shooting a Wichita abortion provider should get a new trial because he believes he was saving unborn children's lives. Scott Roeder is serving at least 50 years in prison for the death of Dr. George Tiller in May 2009. Appellate defender Rachel Pickering argued Wednesday that Roeder should get a new trial because jurors weren't allowed to consider whether they could convict him of voluntary manslaughter, rather than first-degree murder. Pickering argued that Roeder had a sincere but unreasonable belief that he was preventing the deaths of others. Roeder was convicted of shooting Tiller at the doctor's church. Tiller was among a handful of U.S. physicians known to perform late-term abortions.


Lawrence Considers How to Pay for Landfill Cleanup

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence officials are studying how to pay up to $1 million to clean up a newly discovered landfill at the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the city is working to convert the former plant site into a nearly 400-acre business park. The covered landfill was found a few months ago. Public works director Chuck Soules said the city is working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on the cleanup. Soules says the landfill isn't known to contain hazardous materials and holds mostly old office equipment, construction materials and other debris. Soules say the city hasn't yet received state approval to use money from an approximately $8 million environmental remediation account, funded by the now-defunct Farmland corporation.


Mother, Son Plead Not Guilty in Murder Case

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A mother and son each pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting the first-degree murder of a Manhattan man. Forty-nine-year-old Christina Love and 33-year-old James McKenith, both of Manhattan, entered their pleas Monday. They are charged in the death of 68-year-old John Burroughs. Prosecutors allege the pair helped Anthony Nichols of Kansas City, Kansas kill Burroughs last September at his home. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Nichols also is charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Junction City man the same night Burroughs was killed. Investigators say Love drove with her son to Burroughs's home and witnessed the stabbing. McKenith is accused of stabbing Burroughs after Nichols allegedly shot him earlier. McKenith's trial is scheduled to start May 5, and Love's trial is scheduled to start June 2.


KC Business Leaders Support KCI Changes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City business leaders told an advisory group that Kansas City International Airport has become outdated and gives visitors a mediocre first impression. Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce president Jim Heeter told the KCI Terminal Advisory Group on Tuesday that many chamber members want a more modern airport that will appeal to businesses. The Kansas City Star reports that  Heeter told the group that KCI lacks restaurants, shops and ample restrooms that corporate executives are accustomed to finding in other big-city airports. Several Kansas City residents have said they oppose the idea of an expensive new airport terminal. Preliminary estimates are that a new terminal, close parking garage and other features could cost $1.2 billion. The advisory group expects to issue its recommendations in April.


Cabin Where State Song Written to Be Dedicated

ATHOL, Kan. (AP) — The cabin in north central Kansas where the words for the iconic song "Home on the Range" were written will be celebrated in October. Renovations and repairs to the cabin on Beaver Creek in Smith County are nearly done, and the structure will be rededicated on October 3-5. Several events are planned throughout the weekend to celebrate the cabin and the song. Brewster Higley wrote a poem called "My Western Home," at the cabin in 1871. The words were eventually set to music and became "Home on the Range," the state song of Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that the cabin had fallen into disrepair. During the state's 150th birthday celebration in 2011, a grassroots effort began to renovate the cabin. More than $113,000 was raised for the work.


Missing Southeast KS Teenagers Found in Kansas City

ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — Police say two southeast Kansas teenagers who hadn't been seen since Monday were found safe in Kansas City. Zachary Furechting and Alanna Ardanche, both 15, voluntarily left Andover Central High School Monday. Kansas City police say the teenagers were found together at a fast-food restaurant Wednesday morning. They are in good condition and were not with anyone else. Further details were not immediately available.


KC Group Seeking Release of Federal Detainee

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Several Kansas City religious leaders want federal officials to release a 41-year-old man from immigration custody. Josue Noe Sandoval-Perez was arrested earlier this month and is being held by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for re-entering the U.S. illegally more than a decade ago. A spokesman for the faith-based group Communities Creating Opportunity says Sandoval-Perez came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico in 1998 and has a wife and two children, ages 17 and 12. Spokesman Andrew Kling says Perez was working in a metal scrapyard when he was arrested. Officials with Kansas City churches that work with the nonprofit group presented a letter at Kansas City's ICE office Wednesday asking for Sandoval-Perez's release. ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer says the agency is considering a formal request to stay Sandoval-Perez's removal.


MO House Leader Files Business Border War Bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones has filed legislation that would call a truce in the Kansas City area battle for businesses between Missouri and Kansas. The bill introduced Wednesday would apply to four counties on each side of the Missouri-Kansas border. Missouri would stop offering tax breaks to companies from the Kansas counties, so long as a similar bill or executive order is enacted in Kansas. But if Kansas offers tax breaks to lure Missouri companies, then the truce would be off. The four counties in Missouri are Jackson, Clay, Platte and Cass. The four Kansas counties are Wyandotte, Johnson, Douglas and Miami. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback have both expressed support for a moratorium in the multi-million-dollar tax break battle.


KC Among 10 US Cities Vowing to Cut Emissions from Buildings

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mayors from 10 U.S. cities are pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their buildings. The promise made Wednesday means Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Missouri, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City will craft their own plans to make buildings more energy efficient. While power plants are the nation's number-one carbon emitter, it's long been known that buildings also contribute to carbon dioxide emissions. Most of it comes from the burning of fossil fuels for heating, cooling and lighting. The project is by the National Resources Defense Council and Institute for Market Transformation. It's funded by ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's foundation and other philanthropic groups. The groups say the reductions would be similar to taking more than a million cars off the road.


Funeral Set for Winfield High School Cheerleader

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — Funeral services have been scheduled for a south-central Kansas teenager who died last week after collapsing during cheerleading practice. KAKE-TV reports that the funeral for 15-year-old Taylor Murphy will be held at 11 am Saturday at First Christian Church in Winfield. Taylor was a sophomore at Winfield High School, where she became short of breath and collapsed during cheerleading practice last Thursday. She died later at a hospital in Winfield. Her stepfather says the cause of death has not been released. He described her as a healthy teen whose activities also included volleyball and choir. Winfield High School principal Trenton Creeden said Taylor was a bright, popular student who was well-liked by students and staff.


MO Mom Charged in Young Daughter's Drowning

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A rural Clay County woman has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree child endangerment in the drowning death of her 19-month old daughter in October. A grand jury on Tuesday returned an indictment against 27-year-old Amberlyn Farrow, who lives on a farm near Holt about half an hour northeast of Kansas City. She was taken into custody Tuesday and was being held on $500,000 bond. A spokesman for the Clay County prosecutor's office said Wednesday she didn't have an attorney. Sheriff's deputies were called at 10 pm on October 16 to Farrow's home to investigate the death of the girl, who appeared to have drowned in a pond. The grand jury said Farrow created a substantial risk when she took the girl to the pond and failed to protect her.


Kansas Men Hurt in Pedicab Crash in Arizona File Lawsuit

PHOENIX (AP) — Two 21-year-old Kansas men severely injured in a Scottsdale pedicab accident last January have filed lawsuits against the city and three businesses. Cody Clark and Mike Tysver claim Scottsdale was negligent by allowing pedicabs to operate without restrictions on public roads. The Arizona Republic reports that Clark is seeking $40 million and his parents are seeking $3 million apiece for trauma caused to their family. Clark's suit says he suffered a head injury and has millions of dollars in medical bills. Tysver suffered a spine injury and is seeking $5 million from the city. The city of Scottsdale denies any liability in the case. The Great Bend, Kansas men were in Arizona for the 2013 Fiesta Bowl game. They were taking a pedicab back to their hotel when it collided with a car.


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