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Your local and regional news for Northeastern Kansas and the surrounding communities, brought to you by the KPR news staff.

Regional Headlines for Friday, May 4, 2012

 


UPDATE: Kansas House Advances Anti-Abortion Measure 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill designed to keep the state from subsidizing abortions even indirectly through tax breaks. Friday's vote advances the measure to final action, expected Monday. The House has a strong anti-abortion majority, so the measure is likely to pass and go to the Senate. The bill would prohibit Kansas taxpayers from including abortion expenses among personal deductions for medical care. Other provisions would block tax breaks for abortion providers. The measure would also declare abortions illegal if they're performed only because a woman doesn't like the gender of the fetus.

==================================

Kansas Lawmaker Accuses KU Medical Center of Breaking Deal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An influential Kansas House member is accusing the University of Kansas Medical Center of going back on a deal on abortion. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lance Kinzer made the allegation Friday during debate on a bill barring state employees from performing abortions on state time or property. Officials of the Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas had opposed the ban. Kinzer says the center agreed to a compromise that would let its medical residents perform abortions off-site and on their own time for the next year. Kinzer says the center has now reversed course by arguing to make the exception permanent. A spokeswoman for the Medical Center says the school wants to ensure that its obstetrics and gynecology program remains accredited.

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UPDATE: Kansas House Panel Cancels Senate Map Meeting 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has put off a hearing on a new Senate redistricting map until next week. The House Redistricting Committee canceled a scheduled meeting Friday as the chamber conducted a lengthy floor debate on abortion issues. The committee plans to hold the hearing Monday. The panel is considering a map that differs from one the Senate approved earlier in the week. The move breaks from the tradition of each chamber redrawing its own districts. The Senate approved a new map of its 40 districts Wednesday, only to see it defeated Thursday in the House over concerns that it diluted minority votes by collapsing two western Kansas districts. That map put Republican Senator  Garrett Love of Montezuma in the same district as Democratic Senator Allen Schmidt of Hays.

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Kansas Senate Tables Vote on Concealed Weapons Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Senate has indefinitely tabled a bill allowing gun owners with concealed-carry permits to bring their weapons into more public buildings.  Thursday's 22-17 vote tabling the measure leaves its chances for reaching Republican Governor Sam Brownback up in the air. The House had approved the bill in March.  The measure would prohibit many state and local agencies from banning concealed guns on their premises unless they could show they had adequate security.  Hospitals and colleges could ban concealed weapons, but would have to explain their reasons to the attorney general's office.  The bill was prompted by the Kansas Board of Regents' ban on firearms on state university campuses.

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Kansas Senate Rejects 401(k) Measure but Passes Pension Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Senate has rejected a proposal for a 401(k)-style retirement plan for some public employees but approved other changes for the state pension system.  An amendment creating a 401(k)-type plan for teachers and government workers hired after 2013 failed Thursday on a 20-20 vote.  But a larger bill meant to bolster the state pension system's long-term health passed on a vote of 32-8 and now goes to the House. The measure is not a 401(k)-type system, but it does require new hires to join a plan that departs from the traditional guarantee of benefits based on salaries and years of service.  Officials of the pension system expect an $8.3 billion gap between anticipated revenues and benefits through 2033.

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Bill to Ease Smoking Restrictions Sent Back to House Committee  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas House has ducked a debate on loosening the state's restrictions on smoking in public places. The House voted 62-49 on Friday to send the smoking measure to its Health and Human Services Committee rather than debate it. The bill would create an exception to a statewide ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places for businesses catering only to adults 21 or older.  Representative Bill Otto, a LeRoy Republican, said he returned the bill to committee even though he supports it partly because the Senate isn't likely to approve it this year. Public health advocates pushed for the 2010 law, but critics contend it has hurt businesses and that restrictions should be left to cities and counties.

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Bankruptcy Court Allows Hawker Beechcraft to Pay Workers

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hawker Beechcraft says a federal bankruptcy court has granted approval for the Wichita aircraft maker to continue paying its workers. Friday's ruling from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York comes a day after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Hawker Beechcraft said in a news release that it also received permission to pay all vendors and suppliers for goods and services delivered after the bankruptcy filing. The requests were part of various procedural "first-day motions" granted Friday. The company says it will use a commitment for $400 million in financing negotiated as part of its restructuring to meet those obligations.

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Analysts Say Debt, Not Market, Led to Hawker Beechcraft Bankruptcy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Economic turbulence has shrunk the market for business jets and is causing an especially bumpy ride for Hawker Beechcraft. The Wichita-based aircraft maker filed for bankruptcy protection this week, seeking approval for a plan that would write an estimated $2.5 billion in debt off its books. It's the latest piece of bad news for Wichita's aviation economy. But it carries a special significance for Hawker Beechcraft, which has not only suffered as the aviation market soured but has done so with a large amount of debt. Sales of small and midsize business jets have fallen by more than 50 percent in recent years. Wichita is home to three makers of such planes, and Kansas has lost more than 13,000 aviation jobs since 2008.

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Rubbermaid, Winfield Leaders Celebrate Expansion

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — Newell Rubbermaid's decision to expand its plant in Winfield was a cause for celebration in southern Kansas town. State, local and federal officials were in Winfield Thursday for a groundbreaking of Rubbermaid's new, 500,000-square-foot distribution center. Rubbermaid announced in December that it would build the new distribution center, as well as closing its Greenville, Texas, plant and moving those jobs to Winfield. The Winfield Daily Courier reports the distribution facility is scheduled to be completed by the end of October. About 30 new jobs are expected to be created when the center opens. Rubbermaid is increasing capacity to add production of outdoor refuse and home organization products. About 170 jobs are expected to support the increased production.

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Lansing Escapee Still on the Lam 

LANSING, Kan. (AP) _ A child sex offender who escaped from Lansing Correctional Facility on April 18 is still eluding authorities. State prison officials said in a news release Friday that 59-year-old Gary Leslie Furthmyer is believed to be in the downtown Kansas City, Missouri area. Possible sightings have been reported at Kansas City homeless shelters. Furthmyer escaped from his minimum security assignment at a steam plant at the Lansing prison. He was serving a six- to 25-year sentence out of Sedgwick County for indecent liberties with a child and aggravated failure to appear.  Furthmyer is 5-foot-9 and 185 lbs, with brown hair and blue eyes. He also uses the alias of Frank Schell.  Officials say it's possible he has grown his hair and has additional facial hair.

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School Named in Abuse Lawsuit Denies Destroying Evidence

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas military school embroiled in a lawsuit alleging abuse of cadets is denying it destroyed photos and videos on students' cellphones related to the case.  Families of former cadets who have sued St. John's Military School in Salina have asked a federal judge to issue an order protecting any remaining photos and videos.  The plaintiffs also want a computer forensics expert appointed as a "special master" at the school's expense to attempt to recreate material they say was deleted from student cellphones.  In its response Thursday, St. John's called the request a fishing expedition and an attempt to "sling mud"' at the school. It says it has a longstanding policy barring students from taking pictures or videos on cellphones, but has recently modified the policy.

===================================

TransCanada Reapplies for Oil Pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Canadian company that wants to build the disputed Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. says it has submitted a new application for the project after changing the route to avoid environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska. TransCanada says it filed a new application Friday for the project to carry oil from western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, to link up there with other pipelines to carry oil to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. President Barack Obama blocked the project earlier this year, citing uncertainty over the environmental impact of the route, and drawing fire from Republicans. TransCanada proposed a new route last month that would veer east around the groundwater-rich Sandhills region of Nebraska.

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Native Kansan Stationed at Fort Riley Dies in Afghanistan; Army Investigating

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — The Army says it's investigating the death of a Fort Riley soldier from Wichita who was found unresponsive in his living quarters in Afghanistan. Thirty-two-year-old Staff Sergeant Zachary Hargrove died Thursday at a medical facility at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Fort Riley officials said Friday the cause of death was under investigation. Hargrove was a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 84th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, part of the 1st Infantry Division. He served three combat tours in Iraq before his deployment to Afghanistan. Hargrove joined the Army in September 1998 and was assigned to Fort Riley in August 2008. His military awards include six Army Commendation Medals, six Army Achievement Medals and the Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars.

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Kansas City-Area Toddler Dies after Being Left in Hot Car

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — A 13-month-old suburban Kansas City baby has died after accidentally being left in the car all day while his mother worked. Lee's Summit police say the boy's mother thought she had dropped him off at daycare, but instead he spent the day in the car in unseasonably hot conditions. Authorities say the toddler's death was a tragic accident and there are no signs of foul play. The mother discovered her child was in the car and not breathing around 4:30 p.m. Thursday and called for medical help. Paramedics and police arrived at the scene and found the mother trying to revive the child, but neither she nor emergency responders could do so. Temperatures reached the low 80s, meaning the car's internal temperature could have easily reached 100.

===================================

Drug Convict Seeks Reinstatement of Kansas Teaching License

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas middle school teacher who served prison time on a federal drug charge is asking to have his teaching license reinstated. Forty-year-old Terrance Vick was teaching in Wichita when he was arrested in 1997 and accused of being a middleman between a drug buyer and supplier. He accepted a plea deal the next year and was sentenced to three years in prison. He had his teaching license stripped by the state of Kansas. Vick now lives in Grandview, Missouri. Since leaving prison he has taught at a Missouri charter school but was fired for posting a video on YouTube of his students chanting praise of Barack Obama. A commission that advises the Kansas Board of Education has recommended that the board reject Vick's application to regain his license.

=================================== 
Experts Predict Big Increase in Kansas Wheat Output

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Experts who spent three days viewing Kansas winter wheat fields are predicting sharply higher production this year over the drought-damaged 2011 crop.  Participants in the Kansas Wheat Quality tour on Thursday forecast total production of 403.9 bushels _ 40 percent higher than the 276.5 million bushels harvested last year.  Average yields across Kansas were forecast at 49 bushels per acre.  Members of the tour traveled about 4,000 miles throughout Kansas before convening Thursday at the Kansas City Board of Trade to offer forecasts.  The warm spring has hastened ripening by two to three weeks, making it easier to predict potential production more accurately.  Kansas Wheat marketing director Aaron Harries says the crop looks better than average. But he also says drought-stressed southwestern Kansas needs rain in the next week to reach projections.

==================================

Judges Dismiss Parts of Lawsuits Against Priests

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Some plaintiffs and allegations have been dismissed from three civil lawsuits filed against priests and the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic diocese. The Kansas City Star reports each ruling this week was a victory for the diocese or an accused priest. In federal court Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner dismissed parents from two lawsuits filed against the Reverend Shawn Ratigan, who allegedly took lewd photographs of their daughters. Fenner ruled that only the alleged child victims could collect damages. On Monday, Jackson County (MO) Circuit Judge Peggy Stevens McGraw threw out all allegations against the diocese in a suit filed last year against the Reverend Michael Tierney. The judge also dismissed eight counts against Tierney, who still faces civil allegations of childhood sexual abuse and battery.

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KC Art Museum Loses Longtime Curator

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is losing its curator of American art.  The museum said in a release Thursday that Margaret Conrads is leaving to become deputy director of art and research at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth.  Conrads has been at the Nelson-Atkins for 21 years and also served as interim director of education. The museum says her major achievements include the reinstallation of the American Galleries.  She begins her new job in Texas in September.

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UPDATE: Injured Star Pitcher Says He'll Return to Baseball by 2013

UNDATED (AP) — Baseball's all-time saves leader has a torn ACL in his right knee and could be facing the end of his career. New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was injured before last (THUR) night's game in Kansas City while shagging fly balls during batting practice. The 42-year-old right-hander hinted during spring training that this could be his final year in the major leagues, but also said that he wouldn't announce his long-term plans until after the season. However, Rivera said on Friday that he will return to the mound by 2013, saying he does not want his career to end this way. Rivera told reporters: "I can't go out like this."

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Big 12 Hires Stanford AD Bowlsby as Commissioner

LAS COLINAS, Texas (AP) _ The Big 12 Conference has made it official, announcing the hiring of Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby as its new commissioner.  The North Texas-based league announced the hire on Thursday, a few hours after Bowlsby broke the news to his staff and coaches at Stanford. He will take over from interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas on June 15th.  The 60-year-old Bowlsby spent the past six years at Stanford, helping it rebuild its football program into a national power. He will now take over a BCS conference that seems to have found some stability after losing four schools over the past two years. The league will head into this fall with 10 members, including new additions TCU and West Virginia.

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Kansas House Debating Anti-Abortion Measure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House members have rejected an attempt to narrow the scope of a bill designed to prevent the state from subsidizing abortions even indirectly through tax breaks. The House rejected an amendment on a voice vote during a debate Friday to eliminate any provisions in the bill dealing with tax laws. It was offered by Representative Judy Loganbill, a Wichita Democrat and abortion rights supporter. The House is expected to vote on the bill Friday. The measure would prevent individual income tax filers from including abortion expenses when claiming a deduction for medical costs. It also would declare abortions are illegal if they're performed only because a woman doesn't like the gender of the fetus. It prohibits public school courses in human sexuality from using materials from groups providing abortions.

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

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Kansas House Panel to Meet on Senate Map

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas House committee is expected to hold hearings on a new Senate redistricting plan similar to one that failed to get enough votes from senators.  House Speaker Mike O'Neal said the House Redistricting Committee would hear testimony Friday with the goal of endorsing a plan early next week. The move breaks from legislative tradition where each chamber draws its own political boundaries. A new Senate map approved by that chamber Wednesday was defeated Thursday in the House over concerns that it diluted minority votes by collapsing two western Kansas districts. That map put Republican Senator Garrett Love of Montezuma in the same district as Democratic Senator Allen Schmidt of Hays.  Legislators must redraw political boundaries to account for population changes.

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

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Hawker Beechcraft Files for Bankruptcy Protection

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft has filed for bankruptcy protection as it works to restructure its massive debt amid sluggish demand for the military planes and business jets it makes. The Wichita, Kansas-based manufacturer said in a statement Thursday that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York City.  Hawker Beechcraft says it entered agreements with a majority of its senior secured lenders and bondholders to eliminate $2.5 billion in debt and $125 million of annual cash interest expenses. It says it obtained a commitment for $400 million in financing to enable it to continue paying employees, vendors and others.  It says it filed for bankruptcy to implement the terms of its prearranged restructuring.  The company listed a total debt of more than $2.3 billion at the end of 2011.

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

Bankruptcy Protection Latest Move for Wichita's Hawker Beechcraft

 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft has filed for bankruptcy protection as it works to restructure its massive debt amid sluggish demand for the military planes and business jets it makes. The Wichita-based manufacturer said in a statement Thursday that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York. Hawker Beechcraft says it entered agreements with a majority of its senior secured lenders and bondholders to eliminate $2.5 billion in debt and $125 million of annual cash interest expenses. It says it obtained a commitment for $400 million in financing to enable it to continue paying employees, vendors and others. The company says it filed for bankruptcy to implement the terms of its prearranged restructuring. Hawker Beechcraft listed a total debt of more than $2.3 billion at the end of 2011.

Statistics Indicate Kansas Infant Mortality Still Worse than National Average

 

The organization Kansas Action for Children has been analyzing the most recent infant mortality statistics available for the state...and while there's been some improvement, the situation is still not good. Initial indications show that in 2010, 254 Kansas infants died before reaching their first birthday. KAC's Shannon Cotsoradis (kot-suh-RAH-diss) says that when compared to the nation as a whole, the Kansas effort to reduce its infant mortality rate isn't doing very well:

 

 Cotsoradis says the Kansas infant mortality rate ranks 37th-worst in the nation. A blue-ribbon task force created two years ago is continuing its exploration of why the state's infant mortality numbers are so high.

 

 

Ceremony Honoring Fallen Law Enforcement Officers Set for Friday

 

Photo credit: Kansas State Historical Society

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback will be in attendance Friday for the annual Kansas Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on the Statehouse grounds. Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt are both scheduled to speak, and the names of all Kansas law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty will be read. The name of Atchison police Sergeant David Enzbrenner will be added to the 266 others on the monument. Enzbrenner was killed December 9 while helping code enforcement officers serving a nuisance order. He was the only Kansas officer killed on duty last year.

Smithsonian Institution to Receive $35M Donation from David Koch

 

Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution

WASHINGTON (AP) — An energy businessman is donating a record $35 million to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History to build a new dinosaur hall on the National Mall. The Smithsonian is announcing the gift Thursday from David H. Koch, the executive vice president of Koch Industries Incorporated of Wichita. It is the single largest gift in the museum's 102-year history. The Smithsonian Board of Regents voted Monday to name the new dinosaur hall in Koch's honor. Koch, an engineer, is a billionaire who lives in New York City. He was the Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate in 1980 and has been a major donor to conservative political causes. Koch gave the Smithsonian $15 million in 2009 to build a new exhibit hall exploring human evolution over 6 million years.

Regional Headlines for Thursday, May 3, 2012

 




UPDATE: Kansas Senate Rejects 401(k) but Passes Pension Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has rejected a proposal for a 401(k)-style retirement plan for some public employees but approved other changes for the state pension system. An amendment creating a 401(k)-type plan for teachers and government workers hired after 2013 failed Thursday on a 20-20 vote. But a larger bill meant to bolster the state pension system's long-term health passed on a vote of 32-8 and now goes to the House. The measure is not a 401(k)-type system, but it does require new hires to join a plan that departs from the traditional guarantee of benefits based on salaries and years of service. Officials of the pension system expect an $8.3 billion gap between anticipated revenues and benefits through 2033.

===========================

UPDATE: Kansas Lawmakers Revise Deal on Proposed Tax Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House and Senate negotiators have revised a tax-cutting plan to address concerns about possible future budget problems. The negotiators agreed Thursday on language reducing individual income tax rates less aggressively than earlier planned. The measure will also phase out income taxes for 191,000 businesses and reduce the state sales tax to 5.7 percent from the current 6.3 percent in July 2013. The negotiators revised the plan after legislative analysts said an earlier version could create a budget shortfall of $712 million by mid- 2018.

===========================

Hawker Beechcraft Files for Bankruptcy Protection

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft has filed for bankruptcy protection as it works to restructure its massive debt amid sluggish demand for the military planes and business jets it makes. The Wichita-based manufacturer said in a statement Thursday that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York. Hawker Beechcraft says it entered an agreement with a majority of its senior secured lenders and bondholders to eliminate $2.5 billion in debt and $125 million of annual cash interest expenses. It says it obtained a commitment for $400 million in financing to enable it to continue paying employees, vendors and others. It says it filed for bankruptcy to implement the terms of its prearranged restructuring. The company listed a total debt of more than $2.3 billion at the end of 2011.

=============================
Anti-Abortion Bill Passes KS Senate, Heads to Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill giving more legal protection to Kansas health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions is on its way to Governor Sam Brownback. The Senate approved the so-called "conscience" measure on a 23-16 vote Wednesday. The House passed the measure last month and is expected to be signed by Brownback, who strongly opposes abortion. Kansas law already says doctors and hospitals can't be penalized for refusing to participate in abortions or sterilizations. This year's bill extends the protection to other health care providers. It also covers refusal to prescribe abortion-inducing drugs or to refer patients to providers to terminate pregnancies. Critics worry the legislation is broad enough to restrict access to birth control.

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Kansas Woman Files Federal Suit over Redistricting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman has filed a federal lawsuit over the state Legislature's failure so far to redraw the state's political boundaries. Robyn Renee Essex, a resident of the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, filed her litigation Thursday in U.S. District Court. She argues the state's existing political boundaries violate her constitutional rights because they haven't been adjusted yet to account for changes in population over the past decade. One of her attorneys, Brent Haden, of Columbia, Missouri, is a former chief of staff to Kansas House Speaker Mike O'Neal, a Hutchinson Republican. In the lawsuit, Essex expressed doubt that legislators will be able to break a stalemate on redistricting. She suggests that one option would be for a panel of three federal judges to set new legislative and congressional districts.

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Brownback Economic Team Disputes Budget Gap Projections

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's administration is issuing its own projections to argue that proposed tax cuts wouldn't create budget problems in future years. Top aides to the governor Wednesday disputed new projections from legislative staff showing that the cuts in income and sales taxes would create a budget gap of more than $700 million in 2018. The Department of Revenue issued two new forecasts, based on slightly different assumptions. The first showed the tax cuts creating a shortfall of $121 million in by July 2017, with that gap shrinking a year later. The second forecast is more optimistic about increased economic activity in 2013 and 2014. It predicts no budget shortfalls for the next six years and a surplus of $138 million in July 2018.

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UPDATE: Anti-Abortion Group Says It Has Patient Records

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The leader of a Kansas anti-abortion group says unredacted abortion records it received recently aren't the first to be discovered by the confidential informant who provided them. Operation Rescue president Troy Newman told The Associated Press on Thursday that the same man found similar records last summer and turned them over to the state, but it did nothing. Newman says the man two weeks ago gave his group the records of 86 female patients treated in April at a Kansas City, Kansas clinic. He says the man didn't say how he got the records but that he claimed he obtained them legally. Clinic officials say someone broke into a locked trash bin on their property last week, but that records like Operation Rescue purports to have wouldn't have been there.

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Kansas to Honor Fallen Law Enforcement Officers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback will be in attendance Friday for the annual Kansas Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on the Statehouse grounds. Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt are both scheduled to speak, and the names of all Kansas law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty will be read. The name of Atchison police Sergeant David Enzbrenner will be added to the 266 others on the monument. Enzbrenner was killed December 9 while helping code enforcement officers serving a nuisance order. He was the only Kansas officer killed on duty last year.

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Tornado-Stricken Kansas Town Receives Large Grant

HARVEYVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A northeastern Kansas town recovering from a February tornado has received a grant to repair its wastewater treatment system and remove storm debris. The state Commerce Department said Thursday the nearly $246,000 awarded to Harveyville comes from the Community Development Block Grant program. About 40 percent of the buildings in Harveyville sustained significant damage when an EF-2 tornado struck the Wabaunsee County town of about 300 people on February 28. The twister killed one person and injured 13. Kansas officials say the grant will help finance repairs to the water treatment system's pump house building, alarm dialer and other components.

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Alert Issued After Man Found in Women's Restroom

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A northeastern Kansas community college has issued a campus alert after an employee found a man with a camera inside a women's restroom. Johnson County Community College in Overland Park issued the alert Wednesday and released a surveillance photo of a man considered a person of interest. The Kansas City Star reports the man was described as white, in his mid-20s, about 6 feet tall and 150 to 165 pounds. He has short black hair and was wearing glasses and a white shirt.

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Koch Gives Smithsonian $35M for New Dinosaur Hall

WASHINGTON (AP) — An energy businessman is donating a record $35 million to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History to build a new dinosaur hall on the National Mall. The Smithsonian is announcing the gift Thursday from David H. Koch, the executive vice president of Koch Industries Incorporated of Wichita. It is the single largest gift in the museum's 102-year history. The Smithsonian Board of Regents voted Monday to name the new dinosaur hall in Koch's honor. Koch, an engineer, is a billionaire who lives in New York City. He was the Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate in 1980 and has been a major donor to conservative political causes. Koch gave the Smithsonian $15 million in 2009 to build a new exhibit hall exploring human evolution over 6 million years.

================================

Experts Forecast Big Increase in Kansas Wheat Output

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Experts who spent three days viewing Kansas winter wheat fields are predicting sharply higher production this year over the drought-damaged 2011 crop. Participants in the Kansas Wheat Quality tour on Thursday forecast total production of 403.9 bushels — 40 percent higher than the 276.5 million bushels harvested last year. Average yields across Kansas were forecast at 49 bushels per acre. Members of the tour traveled about 4,000 miles throughout Kansas before convening Thursday at the Kansas City Board of Trade to offer forecasts. The warm spring has hastened ripening by two to three weeks, making it easier to predict potential production more accurately. Kansas Wheat marketing director Aaron Harries says the crop looks better than average. But he also says drought-stressed southwestern Kansas needs rain in the next week to reach projections.

================================
Lawrence Police Shift Focus on Curbing Underage Drinking 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A crackdown on underage drinking in Lawrence is moving from bars to parties and neighborhoods gatherings where teens may think they're likely to escape the notice of police. The Lawrence Journal World reports a task force of city and University of Kansas police, along with state alcohol control officers, patrolled areas around the Oread neighborhood last Friday night. Some of the officers were in plain clothes. Lawrence police Sergeant Trent McKinley says they issued eight citations for minors in possession of alcohol and four for using or possessing fake ID or driver's licenses. The task force focused during the fall semester on underage drinking at Lawrence bars. McKinley says the team will be out this spring looking for underage drinking amid proms, graduations and college parties.

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Man Charged in 2 Deaths in Separate Shootings

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old man has been charged with killing two people and wounding two others in separate shootings in Kansas City, Kansas. Wyandotte County prosecutors charged Eric D. Clay Wednesday with two counts of first-degree murder in the March 4 shooting deaths of 16-year-old Renesha Jones and 21-year-old Keith E. Barrett. Barrett, of Kansas City, Kansas, and Jones, of Kansas City, Missouri, were killed at an apartment in a shooting that also wounded a baby. Prosecutors also charged Clay with two counts of criminal discharge of a firearm for shootings in January and February that injured two women. The Kansas City Star reports Clay's bond is $750,000. He is in custody on unrelated charges. A court appearance on the new charges has not been set.

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Kansas Man Receives Advanced Foot Prosthesis

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 68-year-old Kansas man who lost his lower left leg to diabetes has a new generation microprocessor-controlled foot — the first of its kind in Kansas. Ignacio Guerroro demonstrated his new foot Thursday at Topeka's Hanger Clinic, where he was outfitted with the device. The computer-controlled foot, called an elan, is attached to a metal "calf" with an electronic suction device at the knee. It adjusts to angles and movement as Guerroro walks, improving his mobility on uneven terrain like stairs. Hanger says while other microprocessor-controlled feet are in use in Kansas but the elan is the most current variety. It costs between $15,000 and $20,000. The Amputee Coalition, a national group that advocates for people who have lost limbs, says there are about 2 million amputees in the U.S.

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Auto Sale Scammer Sentenced in Kansas

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Colorado man suspected in several states of scamming people selling motor vehicles online has been sentenced in Kansas to five years and three months in prison. The Kansas City Star reports 33-year-old Othello K. Bland, of Aurora, Colorado was sentenced Thursday in Johnson County District Court. Besides the prison time, he was ordered to pay more than $42,000 in restitution. Bland was convicted earlier this year of 16 counts of theft and identity theft. Prosecutors said Bland, or someone working with him, contacted people who advertised cars for sale on Craigslist or Autotrader. The victims were paid with counterfeit insurance checks, and the criminals then sold the vehicles online for cash. Johnson County authorities say Bland is suspected of similar crimes in Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska and Oregon.

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Judge: Kansas Restaurant Failed to Pay Back Wages

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal magistrate has found a Wichita restaurant in contempt for failing to pay workers more than $223,000 in back pay and damages. U.S. District Judge Karen Humphreys had given the China Star and its owners until Monday to pay the money awarded in a 2008 consent judgment or submit a payment plan. Defense attorney Joseph Cassell told the judge this week his clients were unable to pay the judgment or start a payment plan that would be acceptable to the court. The U.S. Labor Department announced the contempt order Wednesday. The agency says its investigation found that China Star's workers were paid a flat rate in cash, often less than the minimum wage and without compensation for overtime work.

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Child Whose Story Touched Many Dies 

BELTON, Mo. (AP) — A northwest Missouri boy whose desire to see the ocean before he died of a rare disease touched people around the world has died. Tadan Foss, a 5-year-old from Belton, died last week of leukodystrophy, a disease that progressively causes loss of brain functions. A ceremony to remember his life is planned for Friday in Olathe. His mother, Carisa Rockers, wanted her son to see the ocean before he died. The volunteer group called Elves of Christmas Present eventually organized a trip through St. Louis, the Grand Ole Opry, Washington D.C. and other cities. Everything was donated. And Tadan got to play in the ocean in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in June 2011. The Kansas City Star reports Tadan's trip made headlines and brought support from around the world.

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 Wichita Man Pleads Guilty to $1M Bank Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has pleaded guilty to bank fraud in which he stole more than $1 million. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a statement Thursday that 59-year-old John Kammerer pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. Kammerer admitted that while working as a controller for Network Results of Kansas, he accessed the company's bank account to steal more than $1.2 million. The fraud involved Kammerer issuing checks to the account of HMK Enterprises, which he controlled. Sentencing is set for July 19. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and forfeiture of $1.2 million.

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Wig-Wearing Bank Robber Sentenced

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man who twice dressed as a woman to hold up a northeastern Kansas bank is going to prison for 37 months. The U.S. Attorney's office says 20-year-old Joshua Parker of Kansas City, Missouri was sentenced Wednesday. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of bank robbery. Parker's disguise included a woman's wig and dark sunglasses when he entered a U.S. Bank branch in Prairie Village last October 21st, jumped on the counter and said, "I'm back." A teller recognized him as the same wig-wearing person who robbed the bank two months earlier. Police chased a getaway car for a few blocks before Parker got out. He ran through a residential neighborhood wearing only shorts and socks before being arrested in a creek bed.

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NCAA Denies Transfer Waiver to Former Sooner Football Player

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The NCAA has denied an eligibility waiver filed on behalf of University of Kansas wide receiver Justin McCay that would have allowed him to play during the 2012 season. McCay transferred from the University of Oklahoma at the end of last semester so that he could be closer to family in suburban Kansas City. He filed a waiver request with the NCAA under personal hardship guidelines so that he would not be forced to sit out a season under normal transfer rules. The initial waiver was declined, and McCay appealed to the NCAA subcommittee for legislative relief, which ruled Wednesday that the former top recruit must sit out the upcoming season. McCay will be eligible to play for the Jayhawks in 2013 as a junior.

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Group Says It Received Dumped Abortion Records

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An anti-abortion group says it has been given abortion records that were improperly discarded at a clinic in Kansas City, Kansas. Operation Rescue said Wednesday a confidential informant delivered the records from Central Family Medicine to the organization. The records involve 86 women and minors treated at the clinic in April. The Kansas City Star reports clinic officials said Wednesday that a locked trash bin was broken into last week but no records were improperly discarded. The clinic's attorney said Kansas City, Kansas police and the FBI have been notified. Operation Rescue president Troy Newman says the records are being kept in a secure location and have been offered them to state officials. He said the organization has no intention of making the records public.

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

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Kansas Senate Approves $14.4B Budget Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved a $14.4 billion state budget for the next fiscal year after adding money for public schools and property tax relief. Wednesday's 34-5 vote sends the bill to the House, where a separate spending plan for the fiscal year that starts in July is awaiting debate. Senators amended the budget to add $50 million to increase base state aid for schools, plus $27 million to equalize school aid payments among poorer districts. Language authorizing the increases is in another bill already approved by the Senate but still pending in the House. The Senate also added $45 million for cities and counties to reduce property taxes. The money restores a revenue-sharing program that began in 1938 but was suspended in 2002 when the state faced financial difficulties.

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

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Kansas Senate to Debate 401(k)-Style Pension Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate's leading advocate of starting a 401(k)-style pension plan for new teachers and government workers says he'll push fellow senators to endorse the idea. State senator Jeff King, an Independence Republican, says he'll offer such a proposal during Thursday's debate on legislation designed to bolster the long-term financial health of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. The pension system projects an $8.3 billion gap between its anticipated revenues and the benefits promised to public employees through 2033. The bill before the Senate would require new hires to join a plan that's not a traditional one guaranteeing benefits up front based on their salaries and years of service. But it's also not a 401(k)-style plan, in which benefits are tied to investment earnings.

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

Kansas Corrections Head Confident in County Jail Security

The man who heads the Kansas Department of Corrections is confident that the county jails housing state prisoners are secure enough to hold them, despite the escape of four state inmates from the Ottawa County jail last month. Some state prisoners have been transferred to county facilities to ease overcrowding. Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts says that while dangerous state offenders have since been relocated from the Ottawa County jail to other facilities, other county jails under contract with the state in Leavenworth, Butler and Cowley counties are capable of handling higher-level offenders. 

 

Corrections officials say about 65 state inmates are housed in county jails on any given day, with most staying from 90 to 120 days in the county lock-ups. Roberts says longer-term solutions to the state's prison overcrowding problem include a request to the legislature for fuding the expansion of correctional facilities at Ellsworth, Oswego and the El Dorado prison in 2014. 

 

Jefferson County Helicopter Crash Injures Three

 Three people escaped a helicopter crash in Jefferson County near Valley Falls with only minor injuries. The crash happened shortly before ten o'clock this (WED) morning, three miles west of Valley Falls, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig.

 

 

 Herrig says it was fortunate that the helicopter crashed in an area near some abandoned railroad tracks, rather than in a grove of nearby trees.

Regional Headlines for Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Kansas Figures Show Bigger Deficit from Tax Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — New figures from the Kansas Legislature's staff project that a compromise plan for cutting taxes will leave the state with a budget shortfall exceeding $700 million by mid-2018. The new figures from the Legislative Research Department circulated Wednesday, two days after the same agency projected that the tax plan would create a budget shortfall of $161 million by July 2018. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the projections from a legislative source. Lawmakers in both parties say they need assurances that the tax plan they pass won't create a shortfall. The plan, drafted by House and Senate negotiators, would cut the state's individual income tax rates, exempt 191,000 businesses from income taxes and reduce the sales tax to 5.7 percent in July 2013 from its current 6.3 percent.

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Kansas Governor's Team Contests Budget Gap Projections

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's administration is disputing new projections from legislative staff showing that proposed tax cuts would create a budget gap of more than $700 million in 2018. Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said Wednesday he's confident an analysis by his office will show no shortfall if lawmakers pass a compromise tax-cut plan. Brownback has endorsed the plan. Jordan and Brownback's budget director said they disagree with the Legislative Research Department's methods for calculating the cumulative effects of tax cuts in future years. The administration expects to have its own projections Thursday. Lawmakers in both parties say they want to ensure that tax cuts don't create future budget problems.

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Bill Would Allow Smoking in Some Kansas Bars

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A House committee has approved a bill that would allow smoking in Kansas bars.  The bill approved yesterday (TUE) by the House State and Federal Affairs Committee would allow smoking in any private business that has only patrons and employees who are at least of legal drinking age.  Rep. Steve Brunk, a Bel Aire Republican, is chair of the committee.  He said it's unlikely the bill will become law this year because it was introduced so late in the legislative session.  Brunk, who doesn't smoke, told The Wichita Eagle that he supports the bill. He says it is consistent with state law that allows smoking in state-owned casinos and it protects private property rights.  Kansas banned smoking in most private businesses in 2010.

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Kansas Congressional Map Emerges from Committee

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Senate panel has endorsed a new congressional redistricting map that adjusts the lines of the four Kansas U-S House seats.The map was advanced Wednesday and could get a full Senate vote later this week. The proposal shifts the boundaries of the districts to reflect changes in the 2010 census. Among the issues resolved in the map is where to put Riley County and the shape of the 4th District, which centers on Wichita and Sedgwick County. Riley County would remain in the 2nd District. The county is home to Manhattan and Kansas State University. The 4th District shifts east, picking up additional counties in southeastern Kansas but shedding south-central counties that would become part of the 1st District.  

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Kansas House Panel Introduces Rival Senate Map

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ In a rare move, a House committee has introduced a map that redraws Kansas Senate districts. Traditionally, the House and Senate draw redistricting maps only for their own chambers.  The House Appropriations Committee introduced the map of Senate districts Wednesday, a day after the Senate approved its own version of the map. House Speaker Mike O'Neal says the map approved by senators has problems and he doesn't think it would get much support in the House. O'Neal, a Hutchinson Republican, says the House proposal is similar to one drawn by Sen. Steve Abrams that merges two districts in south-central district instead of merging two in western Kansas. That plan was defeated during Tuesday's Senate debate, but the speaker says it may have support in the House.

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Government Opposes Ex-KU Consultant Sentence Reduction Bid

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Prosecutors are opposing a request by a former consultant for the University of Kansas to have his sentence shortened for his part in a ticket scalping conspiracy that he helped conceal.  Thomas Blubaugh is asking that his 46-month sentence be reduced to 33 months. The government argued in a court filing Wednesday that Blubaugh's request must fall on "disbelieving ears." It urged U.S. District Judge Monti Belot to deny the request because it is without merit. Blubaugh argues the court improperly considered the value of tickets he had hidden in private storage. He also claims he had ineffective counsel and was promised probation. Blubaugh and his wife, Charlette, the university's former ticket director, were among seven people convicted in a scheme that cost the university athletic department $2 million.

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House Panel Advances Proposed KS Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House panel has finished writing a proposed $14 billion state budget for the fiscal year that starts in July.  The House Appropriations Committee made its final changes to the plan yesterday (TUE).  The measure also contains supplemental funding sought by Governor Sam Brownback for the current budget year, including $24.6 million for public schools.  Committee chairman Marc Rhoades said the House will probably debate the bill next week, although the chamber could take it up later this week.  The Senate expects to begin debating its version of the budget starting Wednesday.

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Kansas Senate Expected to Vote on Anti-Abortion Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Abortion opponents in the Kansas Senate plan to force a vote on a bill giving greater legal protection to health care providers who refuse to participate in terminating pregnancies. Senator Garrett Love, a Montezuma Republican, said he'll ask for a vote Wednesday evening. The House already has approved the bill. Senate passage would send the measure to Republican Governor Sam Brownback, who's likely to sign it. Kansas law already says doctors and hospitals can't be penalized for refusing to participate in abortions or sterilizations. This year's bill would expand that protection to other health care providers, including clinics and pharmacists. It also would cover their refusal to dispense abortion-inducing drugs. Opponents contend the bill would restrict access to birth control as well.

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KS House OKs Plan to Join Arts, Film Commissions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has sent Governor Sam Brownback a measure establishing a new arts group that merges separate arts and film services.  The new Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission approved yesterday (TUE) was sent to the Republican governor, who proposed the idea in January. Senators have already approved the changes.  The final version was drafted by House and Senate negotiators.  The new commission would have 11 members and be part of the state Department of Commerce.  Brownback sought last year to abolish the Arts Commission. He vetoed its entire budget, costing the state $1.2 million in outside arts funds. Restoring some of the state funding for the arts is contained in another bill yet to be debated.

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State of KS Takes Custody of Ex-Doctor's Discarded Abortion Files

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has granted a state board temporary custody of a former abortion provider's patient files after hundreds of his records turned up in a recycling bin.  The State Board of Healing Arts went to court last week for custody of the discarded documents plus others still in the possession of Krishna Rajanna. Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis granted the board's request Monday.  The board revoked Rajanna's medical license in 2005. A woman later found hundreds of his files dumped in a recycling bin near his home in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City.  The state board expects to keep the records until it finds a permanent custodian or until they're more than 10 years old and can be destroyed.

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3 Teens Charged in Break-in and Theft at Cabela's

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Three teenagers have been charged as juveniles in last week's break-in at a northeast Kansas sporting goods store where guns were stolen.  The Wyandotte County prosecutor announced the charges yesterday (TUE).  The three males — ages 14, 15 and 17 — were ordered held pending their next court dates later this month.  KCTV reports 11 handguns were taken during the April 26 overnight burglary at Cabela's in Kansas City, Kan. Officials say some of the guns have been recovered.  Cabela's is located in a retail complex near Kansas Speedway in western Wyandotte County.

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Kansas Wheat Trek Finds Most Fields Maturing Early

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Participants in the annual Kansas winter wheat tour are finding most fields ripening two to three weeks early throughout the state. But the potentially record-setting yields that participants noted in northern Kansas on the tour's first day are being offset by the drought-stressed wheat they viewed Wednesday in the southwest portion of the state.  Aaron Harries, marketing director for the trade group Kansas Wheat, said Wednesday that members are getting a fuller picture  of the drought's effects from Garden City to the Great Bend and Hoisington area. Fields in that region are expected to yield 20 to 40 bushels per acre. That comes in sharp contrast to the estimate of 53.6 bushels per acre for fields in northern Kansas. The tour concludes Thursday at the Kansas City Board of Trade, where participants will offer estimates of total Kansas wheat production.

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3 Suffer Minor Injuries in Helicopter Crash

VALLEY FALLS, Kan. (AP) _ Three people suffered only minor injuries when a helicopter crashed in northeast Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol said the privately-owned helicopter crashed about 9:45 Wednesday in Valley Falls, about 30 miles northeast of Topeka. The three people on board were taken to a Topeka hospital with minor injuries. Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig says the helicopter missed several trees before landing on its side on an old railroad bed that has been converted to a walking trail. No one on the ground was injured. Herrig said the Bell Ranger 206 was owned by Hawkeye Aviation of Ottawa. He says the crew was checking pipelines when the pilot lost rotor speed. Witnesses reported the chopper was spinning before it crashed.

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Kansas School to Be Featured on Missouri License Plate

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — The fierce face of a Kansas university's animal mascot will soon be appearing on specialty license plates issued by the state of Missouri. Pittsburg State University says about 1,700 Kansas vehicles already carry specialty Kansas plates featuring the red and gold image of the gorilla. The southeastern Kansas school says many of its nearly 10,000 graduates living in Missouri expressed interest in showing their gorilla pride the same way. Johnna Schremmer, director of alumni and constituent relations, announced this week that more than enough applications were submitted for Missouri to begin making the plate. Schremmer expects Missouri's first Pittsburg State plates to be on the road within two to three months.

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U.S. Claims Father Illegally Moved Kids to Gaza

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. authorities have filed criminal charges against a divorced Palestinian father who took his three children from Kansas to live in his native Gaza in an alleged violation of his custody decree.  Bethany Gonzales wants her children back in America. The divorced Muslim parents lived in suburban Kansas City until Ahmed Abuhamda took their children to Gaza in February.  He was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court in Kansas with intent to avoid prosecution on three state felony counts charging him with aggravated interference with parental custody.  The mother says she signed off on passports so the children could attend a wedding and that the father indicated he would bring them back. The father says she knew he was moving them to Gaza.

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"Doomsday Prepper" Heads to Prison for Prepping Bombs

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 65-year-old Army and Marine veteran from southeastern Kansas who was preparing for the end of the world will go to prison for possessing incendiary bombs. The U.S. Attorney's office says Alfred Dutton, of Eureka, has been sentenced to 21 months. He pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of unregistered destructive devices.

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20 Years Later, New Information Released on I-70 Killings

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Twenty years after a series of murders by the so-called "I-70 killer," police in one St. Louis suburb are releasing new information in the cold case.  Tomorrow (THUR) marks the 20th anniversary of the death of 24-year-old Nancy Kitzmiller. She was found by customers at Boot Village in St. Charles, where she worked.  Kitzmiller was one of six people killed in five Midwestern cities in April and May of 1992. Four of the murders were at small shops along Interstate 70 — two in Missouri, two in Indiana. The other two were at a bridal shop near Interstate 35 in Wichita.  St. Charles police say that based on ballistic evidence and witness statements, the gun was .22-caliber, possibly an Intratec Scorpion or an Erma Werke Model ET 22.

==============================

Play Based on Greensburg Tornado to be Presented

GREENSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Some Greensburg residents will mark the fifth anniversary of a tornado that nearly wiped out their town with a play based on the experience.  The play, called "Rooted: The Greensburg Odyssey," is the creation of author Marcia Cebulska of Topeka. It is sponsored by The Cornerstone Theater Company and the William Inge Center for the Arts in Independence.  A cast of 22 will present the play at 7pm Saturday in the fellowship hall of First United Methodist Church in Greensburg.  Producer Lois Lessman told The Dodge City Daily Globe that the group wanted to perform the play when Greensburg's Twilight Theater was completed. But the group decided to go ahead with a dramatic reading of the play to mark the anniversary, even though the theater is not ready.

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Wichita Police to Use Electronic Ticketing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police will be able to write more tickets, more quickly when the department adopts an electronic citation system later this year.  KAKE-TV reports that the City Council has approved a contract for the new technology. The program will cost about $500,000, to be covered partly with a grant, but police officials expect it will save the city $1 million over five years.  Electronic ticketing spares officers from writing citations by hand. Instead, a driver's license is swiped through a machine that prints out the ticket.  Wichita Police Capt. Darrell Atteberry says the department expects to write an additional 1,700 tickets a year, since the e-citations will let officers get back on the road more quickly.

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New Catholic Salina Diocese Bishop Ordained

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Most Rev. Edward J. Weisenburger is serving his first full day as the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salina.  The 51-year-old Weisenburger was ordained yesterday (TUE) as the diocese's 11th bishop.  Weisenburger was the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City when he was chosen to become bishop in February.  He replaces Paul S. Coakley, who was named archbishop of Oklahoma City in 2010. The Rev. Barry Brinkman, Salina diocese administrator, was interim bishop until a successor was selected.  Weisenburger said his only goal as bishop is to encourage those in the diocese that the church has a bright future.  The Salina Journal reports that 26 bishops and archbishops and more than 150 priests attended the ceremony.

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Wichita Lifts Ban on Burning

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita has lifted a burn ban that's been in effect since April.  The city said in a news release that residents can conduct outdoor burning within the city limits according to local and state laws. Residents can also use outdoor fire places, cooking grills and similar items.  Open burning in certain areas of the state, including Wichita, was restricted during April to address air pollution in the region.  The city said ozone is the top air pollutant for Wichita.

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Fort Leavenworth MPs to Host Safety Day

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Military police at Fort Leavenworth will let their guard down on Friday to help families focus on summer safety.  The 15th Military Police Brigade at the northeast Kansas post is holding "Spring into Summer," a daylong event promoting safety.  The event will include displays and presentations on fire, watercraft, hunting, all-terrain vehicles, swimming, motorcycle riding and personal security. There will also be inflatable bounce houses for children and a motorcycle show.

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Kansas Senate Approves Remap Plan Amid Acrimony

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved a plan for redrawing its 40 districts, but revisions aimed at appeasing conservative Republicans may not be enough to get it through the House.  The Senate passed the measure yesterday (TUE) on a vote of 21-19, sending it to the House.  Senate Republicans have been bitterly divided over redistricting. Critics argued the Senate map was designed to keep the chamber's moderate GOP leaders in power.  But those leaders backed successful amendments placing two conservatives in the districts of moderate Republicans they want to challenge in the party primary.  Senate GOP leaders say the changes were part of a deal with House Speaker Mike O'Neal, a conservative Hutchinson Republican, to smooth the plan's path to House passage. O'Neal denied there was an agreement.

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

Kansas Senate Approves Remapping Plan; House Prospects Unclear

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved a plan for redrawing its 40 districts, but revisions aimed at appeasing conservative Republicans may not be enough to get it through the House. The Senate passed the measure Tuesday on a vote of 21-19, sending it to the House. Senate Republicans have been bitterly divided over redistricting. Critics argued the Senate map was designed to keep the chamber's moderate GOP leaders in power. But those leaders backed successful amendments placing two conservatives in the districts of moderate Republicans they want to challenge in the party primary. Senate GOP leaders say the changes were part of a deal with House Speaker Mike O'Neal, a conservative Hutchinson Republican, to smooth the plan's path to House passage. O'Neal denies there was an agreement.

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