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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, May 23, 2012



UPDATE: KS Democrats Want to Keep GOP Atty General Out of Remapping Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas Democrats want the state's Republican attorney general to stay out of a federal court case over political redistricting. The matter is in federal court because Kansas lawmakers ended their session Sunday without drawing new maps for the state House and Senate, Board of Education and the four U.S. House districts. Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he wants to weigh in on attempts by lawyers to collect legal fees from the state. But Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis said Wednesday the case should proceed under the same rules governing past lawsuits. The Lawrence Democrat notes that then-Attorney General Carla Stovall was not allowed to participate in a redistricting lawsuit 10 years ago. Davis is joined in his objection by former state Representative Bill Roy Jr., of Lenexa.


UPDATE: Revenue Secretary Says Problems With KS Vehicle Registrations Resolved 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan says problems with a new computer system that delayed Kansas vehicle and title registrations have been resolved. Kansas is implementing a new system that will merge vehicle registrations and titles and eventually link to driver's license records. Jordan says the issues that caused the system to bog down Monday and Tuesday were related to routine maintenance performed Sunday night. The Division of Vehicles worked with 3M to fix the problems and restore service. 3M is the vendor supplying the new $40 million system. Problems with the system caused delays and led to long lines and the closing of vehicle registration stations. Officials are urging residents to register their vehicles online to avoid delays. They've also extended expiration dates for registrations with April and May deadlines.


UPDATE: Man Jailed Following Attack at Topeka TV Station

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say the knife-wielding man suspected of breaking into TV station WIBW has been booked into jail after receiving medical treatment. Topeka police Captain Brian Desch said in a news release that the suspect is homeless. He was booked Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of six counts, including aggravated battery and burglary. WIBW-TV reports the man came to the station Wednesday morning complaining that the Department of Veterans Affairs was mishandling his case. Eventually, the man threw a lamp through the glass front doors and ran through the halls. The man was tackled and held down by several employees until police arrived. While restrained, the man stabbed and bit one sales employee. Another sales employee was cut. None of the injuries was considered serious.


Governor Brownback Signs Tax Cut Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed massive state income tax cuts into law. Brownback signed the bill during a Statehouse ceremony Tuesday. A contentious debate continues about whether the cuts will usher in economic prosperity or create massive budget problems. The law will cut individual income tax rates for 2013 and eliminate income taxes for the owners of 191,000 businesses. Coupled with a sales tax reduction already scheduled for July 2013, the income tax cuts would provide $231 million in tax relief for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The annual figure would grow to $934 million after six years. A forecast from the Legislature's research staff shows that a budget shortfall would emerge by July 2014 and, if left unchecked, grow to nearly $2.5 billion by July 2018.


Analysis: Kansas Governor Owns Aggressive Tax Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Plenty of Kansas legislators have fingerprints on the aggressive income tax cuts signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback. But the conservative Republican governor now owns the legislation, even though he and his allies tried to find less aggressive alternatives in the legislative session's final days. He not only signed the bill, but he pushed for the debate that made it possible and ultimately embraced what passed. He's likely to get most of the blame if critics are right and the state must close budget shortfalls during the next six years. Conversely, he'll deserve most of the credit if the plan works as intended and gives the state's economy a job-generating boost. He championed the idea that eliminating income tax cuts would spur growth.


Topeka Pastor to Run for 2nd Congressional District Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka pastor says he plans to challenge U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins for the 2nd Congressional District seat. Democrat Tobias Schlingensiepen announced Tuesday that he would run against Jenkins, a Republican from Topeka. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Schlingensiepen has been pastor of Topeka's First Congregational Church for six years and a police chaplain for 12 years. Jenkins will be seeking a third term in the House. The scope of the 2nd district might change after federal judges rule on new redistricting boundaries.

KS Attorney General Praises Lawmakers' Work on Crime Issues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says legislators took important steps this year to protect children from sex offenders. The Republican attorney general says the GOP-controlled Legislature approved a package of initiatives he outlined in January. One bill awaiting Republican Governor Sam Brownback's signature would give prosecutors more time to file criminal charges over violent sex crimes against children. Prosecutors now have five years after a crime is committed to bring charges. The bill says that if a victim was under 18 when a crime such as rape occurs, prosecutors have until the victim's 23rd birthday to file charges. Schmidt also noted that lawmakers are giving the Kansas Bureau of Investigation permission in the next state budget to set up a special unit to investigate crimes against children.


Federal Authorities Seek KS Man Who Missed Court Date 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Federal agents are looking for an Overland Park man who failed to appear for a hearing where he had been expected to plead guilty. The FBI on Wednesday asked the public for information on the whereabouts of 46-year-old Ronald Catrell, who didn't show up Monday to federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. Catrell was last seen Sunday afternoon at his home. He was charged in December with bank fraud, money laundering, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors say Catrell scammed three banks out of millions of dollars in loans and duped several investors in a scheme to sell shares of Facebook last year, long before its public offering last Friday. He is described as 5-feet-8 inches and 192 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair.


Wheat Harvest Begins in Southern Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — One of the earliest winter wheat harvests in Kansas history is under way as farmers around Kiowa have begun cutting their crops. The industry group Kansas Wheat reported Wednesday that 35 truckloads were delivered the previous day to the OK Co-op elevator in Barber County. The elevator, near the Oklahoma border, reports the harvest gained momentum in the area Wednesday amid temperatures in the 90s and strong south winds. Early yields ranged from 40 to 57 bushels per acre, with test weights averaging 56 to 62 pounds per bushel. The Kanza Co-op elevator in Stafford says some fields hit by drought have already been cut. In Cherokee County, a few loads of wheat were taken to the Farmers Co-op elevator in Columbus. Yields there averaged about 50 bushels per acre.

Nearly 150 KU Employees Show Interest in Buyout Offer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas says 149 employees have expressed interest in a buyout offer. The university offered buyouts last month to 655 of its nearly 4,800 employees in Lawrence and Overland Park. Spokesman Gavin Young says about a quarter of those who applied for buyouts were faculty. He says another quarter were unclassified staff and about half were university support staff. The Lawrence Journal-World reports those who are approved for the program will receive a lump-sum payment equal to one year's salary, up to a maximum of $100,000. University deans and vice provosts will review the applications and determine whether to approve them by June 1.


Thieves Steal Trailer Full of Flagpoles from Lawrence VFW

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Memorial Park Cemetery in Lawrence will not have its traditional "avenue of flags" on Memorial Day because thieves stole a trailer full of flagpoles. The Lawrence Veterans of Foreign Wars reported the theft of the trailer with 300 flagpoles to police last week. The trailer was stored on the post's property. Post commander Fred Shockey says the VFW will still have its traditional Memorial Day ceremony and put flags on gravestones. The post will try to raise money in the next year to replace the flagpoles. Shockey says some of the poles included brass plaques honoring veterans. The Lawrence Journal-World reports post members have checked with area metal recycling businesses but no one has seen the plaques or flagpoles.


Flags to Fly at Half-Staff to Honor Kansas Soldier

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Flags will fly at half-staff across Kansas Saturday to honor a soldier from Wichita who died in Afghanistan. Governor Sam Brownback ordered the honor for Sergeant Zachary Hargrove, who died May 3 while serving with the 1st Infantry Division in Afghanistan. Hargrove was found unresponsive at a medical facility at Bagram Airfield. His death is being investigated. Hargrove was a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 84th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, 1st Infantry Division. He served three tours in Iraq before his deployment to Afghanistan. Hargrove joined the Army in September 1998 and was assigned to Fort Riley since August 2008.

Wichita Bicyclist Hit by 2 Separate Vehicles

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a bicyclist who died last weekend was hit by one vehicle and run over by a second — and neither driver stopped. Police Lieutenant Joe Schroeder says surveillance videos and forensic evidence determined that two drivers hit 49-year-old John B. Fuqua Saturday. He says a white four-door sedan hit Fuqua from behind. Then a light-colored low-profile SUV ran over Fuqua about 20 seconds later as he lay in the curb lane of a city street. The Wichita Eagle reports that Schroeder says the SUV slowed almost to a stop but then drove away. The driver of the sedan never slowed down. Police are still looking for both drivers.

Harvard Student's Death Ruled Accidental Drowning

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine medical examiner's office says a Harvard Business School student's death was an accidental drowning. Nathan Bihlmaier of Cambridge, Massachusetts went missing early Sunday after he was told to leave a waterfront bar for being visibly intoxicated. The 31-year-old's body was recovered from Portland Harbor by divers Tuesday, and the autopsy was conducted Wednesday in Augusta. Bihlmaier was last seen when he was asked to leave the Ri Ra Irish Pub where he was celebrating his upcoming graduation with two friends. Bihlmaier, who was married and whose wife is expecting their first child, was scheduled to graduate from Harvard Business School on Thursday. He was a native of Osborne, Kansas and a University of Kansas graduate.


Nebraska Lawsuit Could Further Delay Keystone XL Project

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Opponents of a Canadian crude oil pipeline have made good on their threat to challenge Nebraska's new pipeline siting law in court. The lawsuit filed Wednesday by several Nebraska landowners along TransCanada's proposed pipeline route argues that the law outlining the review process is unconstitutional. The pipeline opponents say the law doesn't allow for judicial review and doesn't spell out what criteria should be considered when a proposed pipeline is being evaluated. The Nebraska Attorney General's office declined to comment on the lawsuit because it had not received a copy of it. TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL project is designed to carry oil from Canada across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. TransCanada also has proposed connecting it to the Bakken oil field in Montana and North Dakota.


Corps: States Can Help Improve Flood Forecasting

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Missouri River governors are questioning a top officer for the Army Corps of Engineers about the agency's plans for stopping future floods. North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple is hosting Wednesday's meeting in Bismarck. The governors of Montana and South Dakota and the lieutenant governors of Nebraska and Iowa are taking part. Brigadier General John McMahon is commander of the region that oversees the Missouri River's management. He says states can help improve flood forecasting by providing information on spring snow and water runoff. McMahon says the corps should have repairs to river dams and levees finished by year's end. But McMahon says additional work may be needed. States along the Missouri River sustained extensive flood damage last year. This summer's flood forecast is favorable because of a mild winter.


Hutchinson Police, Patrol Partner to Implement Moving Checkpoint

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Drivers around Hutchinson shouldn't rely on their friends to alert them to sobriety checkpoints. For the first time in the city, the Hutchinson Police Department and Kansas Highway Patrol teamed up for a moving checkpoint. Police Sergeany Brian Hirt says the sobriety checkpoint was set up in five locations in Hutchinson Saturday evening. Hirt says the idea is to fool drivers who use cellphones and Facebook to warn others about the location of a checkpoint. Kansas Highway Patrol Lieutenant Jason Hoffman says the moving checkpoints are a good way for law enforcement to keep up with changing technology. The Hutchinson News reports that out of 270 motorists stopped at the checkpoints, 13 were given field sobriety tests and two were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

KU Business Incubator System Announces Latest Tenant

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — An alternative energy company is the latest tenant at a new University of Kansas incubator facility. Midwest Energy Solutions specializes in conversion technologies. Its focus includes converting vehicles to compressed natural gas, and it carries products that let drivers refuel with natural gas in their garages or driveways. The company also builds and installs equipment for commercial fueling stations. Midwest Energy is the fifth tenant at the Bioscience & Technology Business Center. The center opened in September at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. It's part of a four-facility incubator system. The other three buildings are in Lawrence.


Hutchinson to Host BLM Wild Horse Sale on June 1-2 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Wild horses and burros will be up for adoption at an event in Hutchinson on June 1-2. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Hutchinson Correctional Facility are co-sponsoring the event. The Wichita Eagle reports eight saddle-trained horses, a two-horse driving team and several untrained horses and burros will be up for adoption. The BLM occasionally removes animals from wild herds in the West to protect the herds' health. Inmates will conduct training demonstrations throughout the day on June 1, with a competitive bid adoption June 2. To qualify for an adoption, a person must be at least 18 years old with no record of animal abuse and have suitable facilities for horses. Each buyer will be limited to no more than four horses.

Sentencing Delayed for Man Convicted of Great Bend Murder

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has delayed the sentencing of a Great Bend man convicted of killing a 14-year-old cheerleader whose charred body was found at the asphalt plant where he worked. No new sentencing date has been set for 38-year-old Adam Longoria. A jury found him guilty in April of guilty of capital murder for the August 2010 death of Alicia DeBolt. Sentencing had been scheduled for June 8, but Barton County District Judge Hannelore Kitts on Tuesday delayed it. There was no explanation in court records. Prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty, but a capital murder conviction carries a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Alicia disappeared the weekend before she was due to start her freshman year of high school. Her remains were found three days later.

KS Meatpacking Workers Sue Plant Over Wages and Overtime

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A southwestern Kansas packing plant is being sued by workers alleging they're short-changed on wages and overtime pay. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District on behalf of 2,000 workers at National Beef Packing's plant in Liberal. It challenges the practice of paying hourly meat-processing workers based on so-called "gang time," which pays only for the time the production line is running. The suit seeks class-action status. National Beef did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday. Similar lawsuits were filed last year against Creekstone Farms Premium Beef in Arkansas City, Kansas, and last month against the Farmland Foods slaughterhouse in Monmouth, Illinois. All three lawsuits were filed by attorney Mark Kistler, of Overland Park. Kistler says such wage practices are pervasive in the meatpacking industry.

10 Kansas Sites Nominated for National Register

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 19th-century church in eastern Kansas is one of 10 sites nominated by the state Historical Society for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. The Congregational Church was built between 1858 and 1861 in Osawatomie, a town was settled in 1854 by abolitionists from Ohio and New York. Services were held in the building until 1898. Other Kansas nominees are the Arvonia School and Calvinistic Methodist Church in Osage County, and the Norden Bombsight Storage Vaults at the former Pratt Army Airfield in Pratt. The bombsights were considered essential to the Allied victory in World War II for their ability to help air crews drop munitions. The nominations will be sent to the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places for consideration.

Trial Date Postponed in Petro America Fraud Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The trial of a Kansas City, Kansas man and several other people accused of bilking investors out of millions of dollars has been pushed back to October. Isreal Owen Hawkins founded Petro America in 2007 and soon afterward claimed the Kansas City, Missouri-based company had $284 billion in assets. Federal prosecutors say thousands of people, including poor and elderly church members, were promised they would be rich if they purchased Petro stock for pennies per share. Instead, prosecutors say Hawkins and co-defendants pocketed much of the money people paid to invest in a company whose assets were virtually worthless. A few defendants have already pleaded guilty in the case, which had been scheduled to go to trial in two weeks.


UPDATE: Baylor Bears Defeat K-State 11-1 in Big 12 Conference Tourney

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Big 12 player of the year Josh Ludy hit two home runs and drove in six runs to lead top-seeded Baylor to an 11-1 victory against Kansas State in the conference tournament. Ludy connected for a two-run shot in the fourth inning and a three-run home run in the fifth, both to left field. He then drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth on Wednesday. The game ended because of the mercy rule after seven innings. Nathan Orf doubled, singled twice and drove in two runs for Baylor (43-12), which will face No. 4 seed Oklahoma on Thursday. Josh Turley went the distance to improve his record to 9-0. Eighth-seeded Kansas State (26-30) will play No. 5 seed Oklahoma State in an elimination game Thursday.

Watson to Sit Out Senior PGA Championship

The Senior PGA Championship begins tomorrow (THUR) and runs through Sunday in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Last year, Kansas City (MO) native Tom Watson took the title. But Watson won't be able to defend that title this year because of a wrist injury. Watson...who turns 62 this summer...says he's disappointed he'll be unable to compete, but he plans to compete in five other tournaments this summer once he has recuperated.

Missouri Priest Accused of Abuse Dies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest accused of abusing a girl in the 1960s has died, leaving only the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph as defendants in a civil lawsuit. Lawyers representing the alleged abuse victim filed paperwork Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court to formally remove the Reverend Francis McGlynn from the lawsuit. The 84-year-old McGlynn died earlier this month. The Kansas City Star reports the 2011 lawsuit was the fourth filed against McGlynn since 2003. The other three were settled. The woman accused McGlynn of sexually abusing her when she was a student at St. Catherine School in Kansas City between 1963 and 1964. McGlynn denied the allegations.

UMKC Seeking Participants for Mark Twain Writing Workshop

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The hunt is on for writers to participate in a three-week workshop named after Missouri-born author Mark Twain. The University of Missouri-Kansas City is accepting enrollment for college credit and noncredit students. Starting June 4, participants will begin meeting Mondays through Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Organizers say the invitation is open to people interested in improving their skills as fiction writers, poets, essayists or screenwriters. Speakers at the workshop will include Missouri Poet Laureate William Trowbridge. He has published eight collections of poems, and his works have been reprinted in more than 30 anthologies and textbooks. He was on the faculty of Northwest Missouri State in Maryville from 1971 to 1998. There also will be poetry and short story award winners.

27 Request Involvement in Kansas Redistricting Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Most of the main figures in the Kansas Legislature's rancorous debate over redistricting hope to participate in a federal lawsuit over lawmakers' failure to redraw the state's political boundaries. The notable exception is Governor Sam Brownback, who says he hopes and trusts a panel of federal judges handling the case will draw the lines fairly. Kansas lawmakers adjourned Sunday without drawing new district maps for the state House and Senate, the State Board of Education and the four U.S. House districts. Twenty-seven individuals filed requests to intervene in the lawsuit in U.S. District Court before the midnight Monday deadline. Among the latest to file were House Speaker Mike O'Neal, a Hutchinson Republican, and three conservative Republican senators who were working on maps for their chamber's 40 districts.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 


Computer Issues Continue to Snarl Kansas Vehicle Registrations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Long lines and delays caused by an upgraded computer system are still being reported at Kansas offices that process vehicle registrations and driver's licenses. Jeannine Koranda, spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, says Division of Vehicles had issues Monday and Tuesday with its system, causing delays at locations statewide. The agency is working with its computer vendor to get the system working. The state spent $40 million to implement the new system, which eventually will combine vehicle registrations and driver's license records into one system. The agency was closed for one week to move records to the new system, creating a backlog once offices reopened. The Division of Vehicles is urging residents to use its  online system to avoid delays.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 

KU, K-State NCAA Baseball Tournament Hopes Hinge on Big 12 Tourney Success

Neither the University of Kansas and K-State University baseball teams will make this year's NCAA baseball tournament, unless they manage to win the Big 12 Conference tournament championship. Both teams have sub-.500 records heading into today's (WED) first-round games. The K-State Wildcats, with a record of 26-and-29, didn't even secure a spot in the conference tournament until the final weekend of the regular season. K-State will take on top-seeded Baylor this (WED) afternoon at 12:30. The Kansas Jayhawks...seeded seventh...take on Texas A&M this (WED) afternoon at 4. KU enters the tournament with a 22-and-32 season record.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 


Man Forcibly Enters Topeka News Station, Injures Two

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A knife-wielding man broke into Topeka's WIBW-TV news station and stabbed two sales employees.  WIBW-TV reports the suspect got into the station Wednesday morning. He was eventually tackled and held down by eight employees until police arrived. The suspect and the two men he is accused of stabbing were taken to a hospital for treatment. None of their injuries were considered serious. The station reported that the man spoke to the news director on a lobby phone, saying the Department of Veterans Affairs was mishandling his case. When the news director explained that the man needed to discuss the issue with the VA, the man threw a lamp through the glass front doors. The station said the man then ran through the halls. Calls to the station weren't immediately returned.

**this story has been updated. Please see above.


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