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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says changes in water management are helping Kansas farmers and communities navigate the intensifying drought. The governor says Wednesday that he was encouraged by efforts by city officials and irrigators along the Smoky Hill River basin in central Kansas to manage water resources to meet competing needs. Brownback says other changes in state water laws during the 2012 Legislature will provide more ways for other regions of the state to manage water and prolong the life of the Ogallala Aquifer. Brownback is visiting Allen and Neosho counties in southeastern Kansas on Wednesday to see the damage caused by lack of rain and temperatures above 100 degrees. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 82 Kansas counties federal drought disaster areas.


Brownback Discusses Results of Kansas Trade Meetings in Europe

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is upbeat about the prospects for increased activity between European trade partners and Kansas, especially increased jobs in aviation and energy. Brownback said Wednesday that orders for new commercial aircraft announced at the Farnborough International Airshow in England would be good for the aviation business in Kansas. He says supplies that make components for those commercial orders could see more than $5 billion in business. The Republican governor attended the air show with other Kansas officials, as well as making calls on business leaders in Germany. Brownback says officials with the Boeing Corporation believe the value of new commercial aircraft orders for Kansas suppliers will exceed the losses to the state economy caused by Boeing's decision to close its defense facilities in Wichita.

Google to Make Fiber Announcement Next Week

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Google says it will be making an announcement next week in Kansas City about its super-speed Internet network, but the company isn't releasing any details yet. The company has been adding fiber lines in Kansas City on both sides of the state line after announcing last year the metro area would the first in the nation to get its ultra-fast broadband service. Google says its new service will deliver Internet access 100 times faster than broadband connections offered by telephone and cable companies. A spokeswoman told The Associated Press Wednesday that Google wasn't revealing much in advance so it could make a big splash July 26 when it makes its announcement.

Kansas Highway Patrol Investigating Report of Fake Trooper

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol is investigating reports that a man impersonated a patrol trooper in south-central Kansas. The man was driving a white Ford Crown Victoria with a light bar on top, and stopped a motorist in Kingman County. Patrol Lieutenant Roger Baughman told The Hutchinson News that the impersonator handcuffed the motorist, searched his vehicle, took the handcuffs off the man and then left. He says the impostor is carrying a pistol and wears a phony uniform. The suspect is described as a white man, about 5-feet-10-inches tall, and wearing a navy blue top and pants. He also had a duty belt, pistol, handcuffs and an ammunition magazine holder.

Court Panel Upholds Prairie Dog Poisoning Limitations

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Court of Appeals panel has let stand a restraining order that limits prairie dog poisoning. The appeals panel affirmed a judge's decision to allow a restraining order that effectively limits any poisoning of prairie dogs to a 90-foot barrier around the nearly 10,000-acre complex where black footed ferrets have been reintroduced in western Kansas. The appeals panel decision, issued Friday, turns aside Logan County's request to let it poison prairie dogs where endangered black-footed ferrets have been reintroduced. The Hays Daily News reports that the three-judge Appeals Court panel said the Endangered Species Act doesn't allow the county to eradicate all prairie dogs in the complex because it would destroy the food supply and habitat of the black-footed ferret, which is federally protected.

Topeka Zoo Cancels Event over Liquor License Concerns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka Zoo is cancelling a summer event that was planned for later this month and in mid-August. The "Chillin' at the Zoo" events scheduled for July 20 and August 17 were to include live jazz, beer and wine for adults. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that zoo director Brendan Wiley says he met recently with the state Department of Revenue to review recent changes in alcoholic beverage controls. Wiley says he wants to make sure the zoo has the correct permits in place before hosting the event and will plan the event for next year. He says the zoo will explore the possibility of obtaining a drinking establishment license.

Kansas Soldier Dies in Afghanistan

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Riley soldier from southeast Kansas has died in Afghanistan. The 1st Infantry Division says in a news release that 26-year-old Sergeant Erik May of Independence died July 14 at a medical facility in eastern Afghanistan. The cause of his death is under investigation. May joined the Army in September 2007 and was assigned to Fort Riley in February 2009. He was on his second deployment when he died. May also served in Iraq in 2009. His awards include an Army Commendation Medal, an Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal with one campaign star, and the Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star.


GSA Study Backs NY Plum Island Sale

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (AP) — A report due out later this week recommends the federal government proceed with the sale of New York's Plum Island research lab. The remote 840-acre island is off the eastern tip of Long Island. It's home to the country's only laboratory that studies infectious animal diseases that could affect the livestock industry. The government plans to close the lab and open a new $1.14 billion facility in Kansas. A draft of the General Services Administration's environmental impact statement on the sale of Plum Island will be published Friday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report Wednesday afternoon. The report examines possible future uses for the island, including housing or a nature preserve, but it does not recommend what use is best. It also does not estimate a sale price.


Kansas Masonic Home Announces Next Phase of $22 Million Expansion

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Masonic Home is preparing for a $22 million renovation that will update most of its facilities in Wichita. A groundbreaking is scheduled for Friday for the start of the renovation, a $4 million rehabilitation unit that will house 20 residents. Home officials say in a news release that the next phase will be renovating the home's independent living wing and its assisted-living and skilled-nursing units. The second phase of the project is expected to last 18 months and cost $18 million.

Court Approves Talks on Sale of Hawker Beechcraft

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hawker Beechcraft says the bankruptcy court has approved its request to enter into exclusive negotiations with a Chinese company interested in acquiring the Kansas plane maker. The decision handed down allows Hawker Beechcraft to enter into talks for the next 45 days with Superior Aviation Beijing Company Ltd., despite the objection filed by the machinists union. Hawker Beechcraft says as part of the exclusivity deal, Superior must make a $25 million payment before the end of the week and a second $25 million deposit within 30 days. Hawker Beechcraft CEO Robert Miller says the agreement provides funding to preserve jobs while they simultaneously negotiate a potential sale to Superior and prepare to emerge as a standalone entity if those talks fail.

Jury to Begin Deliberations in Topeka Homicide Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — After three weeks of testimony, a Shawnee County jury is expected to begin deliberating the fate of one of nine people charged with fatally shooting a Topeka woman. Testimony ended Tuesday in the trial of 27-year-old Anceo Stovall, who is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the shooting death of 40-year-old Natalie Gibson. He also is charged in the wounding of Gibson's partner, 42-year-old Lori Allison, and several other charges from other alleged crimes. The two women were shot in a carport behind their home in July 2011. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that jurors will hear closing arguments Wednesday before beginning deliberations. Stovall's trial will be followed by a series of trials for other defendants scheduled from July through October.

Topeka Man Pleads No Contest in 2007 Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter in a 2007 death in Shawnee County. Twenty-seven-year-old Ryan Michael Thompson entered the plea in the death of 18-year-old Zachary Scholl Armold of Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports  Thompson was arrested May 3 for allegedly providing illegal substances that later caused a person's death. The newspaper says Armold died May 11, 2007. As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors dropped charges of possession of narcotics with intent to sell, aggravated endangering of a child and furnishing alcohol to a minor. Thompson will be sentenced September 6.


Maine Man Wanted on Drug Charges Nabbed in Kansas

LITTLETON, Maine (AP) — A northern Maine man has been captured in Kansas seven months after he allegedly went on the run following a raid on a suspected methamphetamine laboratory. The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency says 22-year-old Ronald Lewis of Littleton, was arrested Monday night in Topeka. DEA division commander Darrell Crandall told the Bangor Daily News that Lewis was wanted on a methamphetamine trafficking charge after drug agents searched a Presque Isle residence in December. At the time, police arrested two other northern Maine men and charged them with trafficking methamphetamine.

Ellis County Approves First Wind Power Project

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Ellis County will have its first wind power project, if Fort Hays State University meets certain requirements. The county commission on Monday approved a conditional-use permit for Fort Hays State to construct two 2.1 megawatt wind turbines about 3.5 miles south of the university. The Hays Daily News reports the approval is contingent on the university meeting some requirements before construction begins. Those include providing a transportation plan, liability insurance, a decommission plan and an erosion control plan. The turbines are expected to provide 97 percent of the university's electrical needs.

KDHE Urges Kansans to Stay Alert to Heat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Health officials are urging residents to stay alert to the extreme heat and drought conditions as Kansas bakes under the summer sun. Temperatures are forecast to hit 100 degrees or higher for the next several days with little or no precipitation likely. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says there could be air quality problems later in the week as winds are expected to become still and the air more stagnant. Tom Langer, KDHE's director of the bureau of environmental health, says the danger in extended periods of high heat is that residents let their guard down and become vulnerable to injuries. Officials are giving the usual advice -- drink plenty of water and keep out of the sun as much as possible.


New Kansas Honor Flight Hub Plans First 2012 Flight

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — World War II veteran Don Revert is going to Washington, D.C., for the first time this month on the first trip offered by the state's newest Kansas Honor Flight organization. The 99-year-old World War II veteran would be the oldest veteran to fly out of Kansas as part of the program, a national effort that started sending WWII vets to Washington in 2005. The Wichita Eagle reports the program's main hub in Kansas, Central Prairie Honor Flights in Great Bend, was kicked out of the national organization in April because of management issues. The hub had to cancel all of its 2012 flights because of a money shortage. A Hutchinson-based organization, Kansas Honor Flights, started operating the state's newest hub in May.

Kansas Incumbents Feeling Snubbed by Kansans for Life Group

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some Republican incumbents for House and Senate seats are dismayed that the anti-abortion organization Kansans for Life has not endorsed them, despite their records on the abortion issue. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that redistricting for House and Senate districts that placed two or more incumbents in the same district has complicated the endorsement process. That's the case for Republican Rep. Trent LeDoux of Holton and Rep. Richard Carlson of St. Marys, who are competing for the 61st District in northeast Kansas. Kansans for Life endorsed Carlson over LeDoux and Daniel Brenner, also of Holton. LeDoux says he's been a staunch supporter on anti-abortion issues. Kansans for Life officials say they endorsed Carlson because he had seven years of voting in support of their issues.

Kansas Teen Sentenced to 6 Years for 'Sexting' Minor

BURLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old eastern Kansas man has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for using text messages to solicit a 12-year-old girl for sex. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Coffey County District Court Judge Philip Fromme sentenced Dylan Redding of Gridley to six years and five months last week after he was convicted in June of using text messages to solicit sex from a minor, which is a felony. Coffey County Attorney Doug Witteman says the investigation began in March after the 12-year-old victim's parents called authorities to report inappropriate text messages. Redding will also be required to register as a sex offender for 25 years after he's released.


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