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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013



UPDATE: KS Governor Moves to Shrink Waiting List for In-Home Services

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says the state will move more quickly than expected to shrink waiting lists for disabled residents who are seeking in-home services. Brownback announced Wednesday that his administration is immediately releasing funds set aside by lawmakers earlier this year to address the waiting lists. Those funds will total $37 million over the next two years. Advocates for the disabled had worried that the administration would wait until early next year. Brownback acknowledged that it initially was a possibility because of how the state budget had been written. He said 650 of the 5,000 disabled Kansans on waiting lists will receive services. The extra funds come from savings from an overhaul of the state's Medicaid program, which covers health care for the needy and disabled.


Audit Finds Commerce Department Mishandled Economic Program

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state audit says that the Kansas Department of Commerce mishandled an economic development program and violated state law by extending tax breaks above a statutory cap. Auditors said Wednesday that the commerce department authorized $7.5 million in incentives through the Promoting Employment Across Kansas, or PEAK, program in the current fiscal year. State law caps those incentives at $6 million annually. Republicans on the Legislative Post Audit Committee defended the handling of the program, saying it was being used to develop jobs. The Legislative Post Audit also said it was difficult to assess the benefits of PEAK because the commerce department has not compiled meaningful information on the program. Commerce department officials said they believed the cap was a cumulative amount that increased by $6 million each year.


Recent Kansas Law Eyed to Help Control Prison Population Growth

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts says recent changes in post-release supervision of convicted offenders should help control growth in the state's prison population before more beds are needed. Roberts said Wednesday the changes could result in 100 fewer people being returned to prison in each of the next two years for technical violations. He also said the savings would be reinvested in programs to treat substance abuse and mental health problems among prison inmates. As of Wednesday, Roberts said, the state's male prison population was 8,877, or 78 over capacity. The female population was 761, or 34 below capacity. The Kansas Sentencing Commission is expected to issue new forecasts for prison populations in the coming weeks.


New KS Court of Appeals Judge to Take Seat in January

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Budget constraints and the need to remodel office space will keep newly confirmed Kansas Court of Appeals appointee Caleb Stegall from taking his seat until January. Chief Judge Thomas Malone announced Wednesday that Stegall will be sworn in January 3. Stegall is Governor Sam Brownback's chief counsel. Stegall is filling a new, 14th seat on the Court of Appeals. When lawmakers finished their regular, annual session in June, and they and court officials didn't anticipate the new judge's confirmation by the Senate until January. The Legislature had a special session earlier this month to rewrite a criminal sentencing law, and senators took up Stegall's nomination then. Spokesman Ron Keefover said the judicial branch also must remodel several small, vacant offices into a judge's suite.


Westar Energy Will Have New Controller in November

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The largest electric company in Kansas will have a new executive overseeing its accounting operations in November. Westar Energy announced Tuesday the promotion of assistant controller Kevin Kongs to controller and vice president, effective November 8. The decision was made by the company's board of directors. Kongs will replace Lee Wages, who has been Westar's controller since 1999. Wages is retiring after working at Westar for 36 years. Kongs has been assistant controller since 2006. In 2012 and 2013, he was project co-leader for an upgrade of the company's accounting computer systems. Westar has nearly 700,000 customers.


State of KS Announces Plan to Clean Up Topeka Site

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state's environmental regulatory agency is seeking public comment on a $2.3 million plan to clean up an industrial site in Topeka that is contaminated with chemicals dumped decades ago. Investigators say the site was polluted by Reid Chemical Company, which dumped volatile organic compounds that polluted the land and groundwater from the 1940s to 1960s. The cleanup is the responsibility of the site's current user, Contech Engineering Solutions and AK Steel Corporation, formerly known as Armco. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 1,529 tons of soil were removed from the site in 2008. The state's plan calls for maintaining a three-year-old network of vapor extraction devices that draw out residual chemicals through more than 30 wells. The plan also includes injecting carbon substrate through wells to accelerate the degradation of pollutants.


Fort Riley Soldier Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Riley private has been convicted in the stabbing death of another soldier and sentenced to life in prison without parole. A court martial panel at Fort Riley sentenced Private John Hughes Tuesday for the death of 21-year-old Private Thomas Lavrey, of West Seneca, New York. Lavrey was found unresponsive in his barracks room at the fort in May 2012. Hughes also will be dishonorably discharged, will forfeit all pay and allowances, and have his rank reduced. Hughes was convicted of murder, resisting arrest, false official statements, larceny, wrongful appropriation and going AWOL. KMAN reports that authorities said Hughes stabbed Lavrey in the back of the neck, stole a military vehicle and resisted arrest. Hughes will be confined in the U. S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.


UPDATE: Hacking Suspect Pleads Guilty in Koch Cyberattack

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wisconsin trucker who joined a cyberattack on Wichita-based Koch Industries has admitted his role in the onslaught that took the company's website offline for about 15 minutes. Thirty-seven-year-old Eric Rosol, of Black Creek, Wisconsin pleaded guilty Wednesday to one misdemeanor count of accessing a protected computer. The parties have agreed that the direct loss from the attack staged by the computer hacking group Anonymous is less than $5,000. Koch contends it spent $183,000 for a consulting group when it learned of the planned attack. It will be up to a federal judge to decide at the December 2 sentencing how much in restitution Rosol must pay. Defense attorney Kurt Kerns says they're thankful to resolve the case through a misdemeanor that will allow Rosol to move on with his life.


Westar Alleges Theft of $8K Worth of Electricity

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a report that a Sedgwick County resident stole as much as $8,000 worth of electricity over nearly seven years. KAKE-TV reports that Westar Energy reported the theft to the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office. Deputies went to the address where the alleged theft occurred. They found that a hole had been drilled in the meter, and a wire had been inserted to keep it from running. Investigators believe the alteration was made in November 2006. No arrests have been made so far.


Kansas Book Festival Attracts 2,000 to Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas first lady Mary Brownback has recognized 25 books and their authors as part of the Kansas Book Festival at the Statehouse in Topeka. Among those honored Saturday were former Kansas Bureau of Investigation Director Larry Welch and his book, "Beyond Cold Blood: The KBI from Ma Barker to BTK." Other works that were honored examined the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s in Kansas, family farms and the history of Manhattan from 1854 to 1894. More than 2,000 people visited the Statehouse to participate in the festival, an annual event hosted by Brownback, wife of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. The festival is a charitable organization established through the Topeka Community Foundation. The festival awards grants to public and school libraries to help purchase books, technology and support reading programs.


Miss Kansas Shows Off Tattoos at Miss America Pageant

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Miss Kansas Theresa Vail says she wants to break the stereotype that women with visible tattoos don't compete in pageants. So during the swimsuit portion of the Miss America competition on Tuesday, Vail revealed two tattoos — the Serenity Prayer on her right side and the insignia of the U.S. Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder. Vail is a 22-year-old senior at Kansas State University. She's also a member of the Army National Guard who wants to become a military dentist. Her platform is helping women overcome stereotypes and break barriers. Given her platform, she wrote on her blog last month: "What a hypocrite I would be if I covered the ink." The Miss America pageant has returned to Atlantic City, New Jersey after a six-year absence. The finale will take place on Sunday night.


KU Endowment Has Record Year of Donations

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas Endowment had another record-setting year in fiscal year 2013. The endowment announced Tuesday it received $174.2 million for the year, an 11 percent increase over last fiscal year's total of $156.5 million. It was the sixth fiscal year the endowment broke the record from the previous year's fundraising The funds pay for scholarships, professorships, facilities, research and other programs at The University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Hospital. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that most of the donations were earmarked for specific purposes, with just $2.6 million given as unrestricted funds. The fundraising year helped the endowment get closer to a goal of raising $1.2 billion by 2016. So far, the endowment has raised $923 million toward that goal.


Sedgwick County Approves Expansion of Zoo

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Zoo will get about $31 million from the county over the next five years, giving zoo supporters a boost in efforts to expand the elephant exhibit. The Sedgwick County Commission voted Wednesday to spend $30 million over the next five years at the zoo, with nearly all the money going to staff and maintenance costs. The increased financial support will allow the zoological society to begin raising $10 million to $12 million for an expanded elephant exhibit. The zoo has two elephants and needs at least one more to meet new requirements for accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Zoo officials delayed starting the capital campaign without a commitment from the county to maintain current and future exhibits and address delayed maintenance needs.


Wichita Council Begins Settlements Linked to Standoff

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council has approved the first settlement in at least a dozen claims filed by tenants of an apartment complex damaged in a police standoff in July. The council on Tuesday approved a $20,000 settlement to Alyssa Cooper and Derrick Jochum. They lived together in one of the apartments damaged in the July 11 standoff with 24-year-old Jared Woosypiti, who was killed in a gunfight with police. The city faces at least a dozen claims for a total of more than $100,000 for damages caused by police during the 32-hour standoff. Officers fired tear gas, detonated explosive devices and shot water into the apartments. Six apartments were damaged. The city pays such claims out of its self-insurance fund.


Wichita Opera to Bring Shows to Kansas Casino

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — How about a night at the opera, followed by gambling at a casino? That unusual pairing of art and entertainment options will be available soon in the Wichita area, thanks to a partnership between the Wichita Grand Opera and the Kansas Star Arena. Parvan Bakardiev, the opera's general director, said the opera plans to put on full-scale operas and bring popular acts to the arena, operated by the casino near Mulvane. The first act booked by the partnership will be Celtic Woman, an Irish musical ensemble. They'll perform on December 13, accompanied by the Wichita Grand Opera Orchestra. The Wichita Eagle reports that the arena can seat up to 6,000 people, compared with the 2,200-seat Century II Concert Hall where the opera usually performs.


UPDATE: Massage Parlor Employee to Remain in Custody Until Trial

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita massage parlor employee accused in a sex trafficking scheme will remain in federal custody pending trial. Forty-two-year-old Xiuqing Tian  of Framingham, Massachusetts waived her right Wednesday to a detention hearing. Her defense attorney Kari Schmidt told the court her client has been unable to find a local residence. She agreed with the prosecution's recommendation that she remain jailed at this time. U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Humphreys entered a not guilty plea at the brief arraignment. Tian is accused of conspiring with Gary H. Kidgell and his wife, Yan Zhang, to recruit women from around the country to come to Wichita to work at Asian massage parlors, then coercing them into prostitution. Their trial is set for October.


UMKC, Kansas City to Renovate Municipal Auditorium

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri-Kansas City is partnering with city officials on a $5 million renovation of Municipal Auditorium, the home of the Kangaroos' men's basketball team. The Art Deco-style downtown arena, which opened in 1935, will get new video boards, an LED scorer's table, updated sound system, improved lighting and new seating in the lower level. The arena hosted three of the first NCAA men's basketball Final Fours and is still a busy place. Along with UMKC games, it serves as home to the Mid-America Intercollegiate Association basketball tournament and the NAIA Division I men's basketball tournament. The upgrades were announced Wednesday. Negotiations are ongoing for additional renovations to the building.


MO Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Sex Slave Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A southwest Missouri man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for keeping a young woman as a sex slave for six years. Forty-six-year-old Edward Bagley was sentenced Wednesday after a federal court judge in Kansas City accepted a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty in January to one count of using an interstate facility to entice a minor into illegal sexual contact. Bagley, of Lebanon, Missouri, originally faced 11 federal charges. He was accused of enticing an underage girl to be his sex slave, torturing and mutilating her, and allowing others to view the torture sessions. Bagley and his wife, Marilyn, said the woman voluntarily engaged in bondage and sadomasochism after she turned 18. Marilyn Bagley and four other men are also scheduled to be sentenced this week.


Atchison to Honor Unusual Bricklayer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Atchison will honor a deaf, double amputee who became a famous bricklayer before his death more than six decades ago. On Thursday, the northeast Kansas town will unveil a statute honoring William Boular. He once was featured in "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" and was credited with installing 48,000 paving bricks in one day. Boular lost his hearing and ability to speak from spinal meningitis at age 4. When he was 10, he was hit by a train, severing both his legs. The Wichita Eagle reports that he got around on boots that allowed him to walk on his knees. Boular was a bricklayer, foundry worker and beekeeper. Many of the bricks he laid on Atchison's streets are still intact.


Cowboys, Chiefs Renewing Rivalry at Arrowhead 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — One of the first things Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did when he awoke Wednesday was to take a good look at the little wooden trophy topped by an odd street sign sitting among the many awards and memorabilia in his Dallas-area home. It's called the "Preston Road Trophy," dreamed up by his longtime friend and the late Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, and named after the street on which they once lived just 300 yards apart. Ever since the late-1990s, the trophy has been presented to the winning side on the rare occasions that Dallas plays Kansas City. Jones has had the trophy since 2005. Hunt's son, current Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, called it "the smallest and ugliest trophy in sports," and it's one he wants badly to win on Sunday.


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