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

Western Wildfires Affect Kansas Train Travel

Wildfires in New Mexico are still disrupting Amtrak service on the Southwest Chief train route. Mark Magliari (magg-lee-AIR-ee) is a spokesman for Amtrak, and says that while the method of transportation along the line has been temporarily altered, no stops in Kansas have been entirely abandoned:

Despite the wildfires in New Mexico, Magliari (magg-lee-AIR-ee) says the daily Southwest Chief service that runs between Chicago and Los Angeles is expected to continue operation through Kansas because of the alternative transportation methods. The Southwest Chief train makes Kansas stops in Lawrence, Topeka, Hutchinson, Newton, Dodge City and Garden City.

Wildfires Lead to Amtrak Service Changes

Wildfires in New Mexico continue to disrupt Amtrak service in western Kansas. Mark Magliari (magg-lee-AIR-ee) is a spokesman for the company:

All stops in Kansas, though, are being covered with the use of alternative transportation being arranged by Amtrak. The company has chartered motor coaches to cover the distance between Newton and Lajunta (la-HOON-tah), Colorado.

Topeka Boot Policy Approved

The Topeka City Council has approved an ordinance that will allow a boot restraint device to be placed on a vehicle's wheels if parking and traffic officers find the owner has failed to pay three or more city parking tickets. City council member Sylvia Ortiz was not a fan of the measure, saying it potentially puts officers and other personnel in harm's way.

But seven other councilmembers did not agree, and the boot ordinance was approved. The effort is similar to those in other cash-strapped...and parking-strapped...cities around the country. A report indicated that 400 people in Topeka had accumulated $400,000 worth of unpaid fines. 15 of those people were responsible for more than $175,000 of that amount.

Schools Look to 2012 Budgets

The 2011 school year doesn't begin until August, but the Kansas State Board of Education is already looking ahead to 2012. Board members are getting their first looks at school spending ideas for next year. Chair Dave Dennis says their final proposal should push to reverse recent budget cuts.

The legislature has the final say on school funding, and while Dennis did not rule out tax increase proposals to increase funding, political analysts agree that such a plan would be unlikely to succeed.

KS Board of Education Rejects Fingerprinting Requirement

The State Board of Education has rejected a proposal that would have required Kansas teachers to pay a $50 fee and have their fingerprints kept on file. Board member Sue Storm spoke in opposition to the measure:

The board ultimately voted to reject the measure, which would have required that some 40,000 educators to have their fingerprints kept on file with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The requirement would have applied only to licensed staff, not other school district employees.

KS National Guard Prepares for MO River Flooding

Kansas National Guard troops are standing by to assist people in communities along the swollen Missouri River. Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli says soldiers are already stationed along the levees in Doniphan County.

The National Weather Service says flood warnings will remain in effect until further notice for communities along the Missouri River, including Atchison, Leavenworth and St. Joseph.

Fort Leavenworth Airfield Could Be Threatened by Floodwaters

Missouri River flooding is not expected to have a major impact on Fort Leavenworth, but it could have an effect on the installation's airfield. Doug Cook, with the Department of Plans, Training and Mobilization at Fort Leavenworth, says it's a concern for both the fort and the city.

An additional levee surrounds the Fort Leavenworth airfield, but if it is overtopped or breached, the Army does have plans for keeping the airfield operational. The Missouri River at Leavenworth is under a flood warning until further notice.

Plans Prepared for Possible Fort Leavenworth Flooding

As Missouri River flooding continues to threaten the region, the U-S Army base at Fort Leavenworth is making plans to deal with high water that might affect the facility. Doug Cook, with the Department of Plans, Training and Mobilization at Fort Leavenworth, says the base's airfield could be at risk if waters rise much farther...but that flood prevention plans are already in place:

The Missouri River at Leavenworth is under a flood warning until further notice. On Sunday, the city of Leavenworth closed access to the Riverfront Park campground and the Leavenworth animal control facility.

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