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Headlines for Tuesday, August 19, 2014

GOP Intensifies Efforts in Kansas Governor's Race

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican Governors Association says it has made a $600,000 ad buy attacking the Democratic challenger to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. The group's chairman, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, will also be in Kansas on Wednesday for events with Brownback in Kansas City and Mission Hills. That announcement Tuesday came as the group released the new TV spot targeting Brownback's Democratic opponent, Paul Davis. The conservative Republican governor is facing a strong challenge because of concerns about whether tax cuts his administration delivered may be ruining the state's finances. Christie will be going to a retail shop in Kansas City, Kansas, for a public event with Brownback as well as two closed fundraisers in Mission Hills before heading later in the day to Oklahoma for events with Governor Mary Fallin.


KDHE Announces State's First Report of West Nile Virus for 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State health officials say a man from Republic County has the first reported case of West Nile virus in Kansas this year. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment did not release any more information about the man in a news release Tuesday. West Nile virus can be spread to people by infected mosquitoes but not from person to person. Symptoms range from a slight headache and low-grade fever to swelling of the brain and in rare cases, death. The state had 92 reported cases of West Nile last year. The health department says it is not found a positive mosquito sample in Kansas so far this year.


Kansas Jobless Rate Edges Higher

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Labor says the state's unemployment rate and the number of private-sector jobs both edged higher in July. The agency reported Monday that seasonally adjusted unemployment rose to 4.9 percent in July from 4.8 percent in June. The July figure was down from 5.6 percent in the same month last year. The report also said the private sector added a seasonally adjusted 900 jobs from June to July, an increase of 0.1 percent. Total private-sector employment grew by about 21,000 jobs from July 2013 to July of this year, an increase of 1.9 percent.


Kansas Man Sentenced for Beer Bottle Death

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man who hit an Iraq war veteran on the head with a beer bottle will go to prison for the man's death. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 23-year-old Justin Gonzalez, of Mission, was sentenced Tuesday to two years and eight months behind bars. A Douglas County jury convicted Gonzalez in June of involuntary manslaughter for the death of 27-year-old Nicholas Sardina, of Lawrence. Gonzalez testified he struck Sardina on the head with the bottle after Sardina punched one of his friends at a Lawrence party in February 2012. Prosecutors said Gonzalez used excessive force. Sardina, originally from Clarence, New York, was a sergeant in the Kansas National Guard and had served three tours in Iraq. He had also taken classes at the University of Kansas.


Brownback Tells Oilmen About Efforts to Fight Federal Regulation

WICHTA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is campaigning on his administration's efforts to fight against what he calls federal government overreach. The Republican governor found a friendly audience for his re-election pitch Monday at the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association convention. Brownback recounted steps the state has taken to fight the listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. He says the bird's population numbers are up 20 percent in Kansas. He also talked about efforts to counter an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to expand the definition of waters of the United States, which he claims would encompass ponds and puddles. Brownback says water is inherently a state issue, and he wants the federal government to withdraw its proposed rule. Another area of contention is federal pollution rules over coal.


Roberts: Drug Cartels Behind US Border Crisis

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Senator Pat Roberts says drug cartels are enticing Central American immigrants to come to the United States to work for their operations here. The Kansas Republican made the claim Monday at the annual convention of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association. He says the cartels spread false information that President Barack Obama's 2-year-old directive granting work permits to certain immigrants brought here illegally as youths would also allow Central American children to stay in the country. Many of the 66,000 Central American immigrants currently arriving in the country are between the ages of 16 and 22. Roberts says those immigrants become drug "mules" to expand the cartels' drug operation in the United States. He estimates the number will grow to 100,000 if the U.S. doesn't respond. Other panelists at Monday's event include the state's four U.S. House members - Tim Huelskamp, Lynn Jenkins, Mike Pompeo and Kevin Yoder. Also on the agenda for the Wichita convention is a discussion of the lesser prairie chicken and its listing by the federal government as a threatened species. Oil and gas producers have said the listing interferes with their business by putting restrictions on land use.


KHP Breaks Ground for New Troop Headquarters

KECHI, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol has broken ground for its new headquarters in the south-central part of the state. Governor Sam Brownback joined other dignitaries at the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday in Kechi, located outside Wichita. The 22,000-square-foot building will house the patrol's Troop F, which has outgrown its current quarters in Wichita. The building is expected to be ready by July 2015 and will also be used by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Patrol officials say the $3.5 million project is being financed with funds from asset forfeitures. The land is owned by the Kansas Department of Transportation. Troop F patrols 13 counties of south-central Kansas.


Kansas Dryland Crops Showing Stress

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The latest government snapshot says dryland crops in Kansas that missed the recent rain are showing signs of stress. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that precipitation over the past week was limited to the northern half of the state, with totals of less than a half-inch in most areas. About 15 percent of the Kansas corn crop is rated in poor to very poor condition, with about 30 percent rated fair, 42 percent rated good and 13 percent in excellent condition. The state's sorghum crop is rated as 12 percent poor to very poor, 33 percent fair, 46 percent good and 9 percent excellent. Soybean condition was rated 10 percent poor to very poor, 37 percent fair, 44 percent good and 9 percent excellent.


Pilot Hurt in Crash of Small Plane

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a pilot has been seriously injured in the crash of a small plane at a western Missouri airport. Grain Valley police said the crash occurred around 2 pm Tuesday as the pilot was trying to land the single-engine plane at East Kansas City Airport, about 20 miles east of Kansas City. The pilot was the only person on board and was taken to a hospital. The plane was heavily damaged. Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration were heading to the scene to handle the investigation.


Man Killed by Police in Wichita Suburb

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas police chief says an officer responding to a domestic disturbance shot and killed a man in suburban Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that Haysville police were called to an apartment around 10:45 am Tuesday and found a woman injured amid an ongoing disturbance. Haysville Police Chief Jeff Whitfield says an officer shot the man in a confrontation, but it's not clear if the shooting was in response to the man threatening police or harming the woman. The woman was hospitalized. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is among the agencies looking into the shooting. This was the Wichita area's second fatal shooting by law enforcement in the past week. A Newton police officer answering a domestic violence call Thursday killed a man who authorities said refused to drop a hunting knife.


Florida Judge Upholds Jury Award to Kansas Tourist

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A judge upheld a $2.6 million judgment awarded to a Kansas tourist whose skull was fractured when she was run over by a truck driven by a lifeguard. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports Volusia County had appealed part of the judgment handed down by a jury in favor of Erin Joynt, who was injured while lying on the beach in 2011. The judge ruled Monday after the county had appealed a $600,000 portion of the judgment granted as compensation for future medical bills and earning capacity. Joynt was also awarded $500,000 for past suffering and $1.5 million for future suffering. Deputy County Attorney Larry Smith says officials may still decide to seek a reduction in other amounts. Joynt's attorney John Phillips says he will seek a speedy resolution.


State: Accuracy of Kansas Scales Improving

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - State agriculture officials say new leadership, more money and increased scrutiny has improved the accuracy of heavy capacity scales. The scales are used to weigh millions of dollars of goods every year in Kansas, including truckloads of scrap metal, recyclables and agricultural products. In early 2013, state inspectors approved just 26 percent of the large scales they tested. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports almost 50 percent of the scales tested did not weigh accurately enough and others did not meet state specifications. In the first half of fiscal year 2014, inspectors approved 45 percent of the scales they checked and only 27 percent were found to not be weighing accurately enough. Kansas Agriculture Secretary Chad Bontrager noted the improvement but says he wants the progress to continue.


Trooper: 2 Dead in 3-Vehicle Kansas Accident

TONGANOXIE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two people have died in a three-vehicle accident in northeast Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the wreck occurred Monday evening in rural Leavenworth County when a westbound driver sideswiped a trailer being hauled by an eastbound pickup before veering into oncoming traffic. His vehicle hit another car head-on, killing both drivers. The patrol identified the driver of the westbound car as 46-year-old Bart H. Kissinger of Oskaloosa. The second driver was 39-year-old Brandon L. McKinsey of Tonganoxie. No one else was in either vehicle. Two people in the truck with the trailer were not injured.


Sale of Custom Guitars to Help Fund Vets Memorial

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Event organizers hope the sale of five customized guitars at a fundraiser will raise $50,000 to support the construction of the Reno County Veterans' Memorial. The Hutchinson News reports the instruments will be covered in patriotic artwork and are to be auctioned off in November. Each of the four guitars will have artwork that will recognize the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines. The fifth guitar will display a stars and stripes design. The cost to build the memorial is about $250,000. Any veteran born in Reno County or a resident for at least 10 years is eligible to recognized at the memorial. Its groundbreaking is expected to occur in 2015.


Kansas Historic Landmark Needs Repairs

LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) — A historic and picturesque landmark in central Kansas is in need of some renovation and repair. The Coronado Heights site near Lindsborg is considered one of the state's most scenic locations. The sandstone formation's natural platform has been used by generations as a scenic overlook and place to picnic. The Wichita Eagle reports the Smoky Valley Historical Association says the landmark is sagging and deteriorating, although it is not considered dangerous. The group, which owns and manages the site, is hosting a capital campaign to raise money for renovating the park. The group received a $90,000 matching grant from the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund. But it needs more than $57,000 for its share of the work, and another $65,000 for roadwork and drainage repair.


Wichita State to Close Golf Course in November

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University will close its golf course on November 3 to prepare for an expansion. The university announced Tuesday that the university golf teams will be able to use part of its Braeburn golf course. The school plans to demolish apartments this fall and begin construction of an engineering building early next year. It is part of a 20-year plan that could include up to 20 buildings. Much of that expansion will be on land that currently holds the golf course. The Wichita Eagle reports that school officials pointed out in a news release that the land was originally acquired in 1967 for future expansion. The Board of Trustees says the land will be more valuable to the city and state as the home of the proposed Innovation Campus.


Former Atchison Truancy Officer Pleads in Sex Crimes Case

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) - A former Atchison High School truancy officer has admitted that she had an unlawful sexual relationship with a former student. Twenty-nine-year-old Heather Robinson, of Troy, pleaded no contest Monday to two counts of unlawful sexual relations with a former 17-year-old high school senior. The relationship occurred while she was a contract worker for truancy reduction at the Atchison Public School District between October 2012 and May 2013. Atchison County Prosecuting Attorney Gerald Kuckelman Jr. says nine of 11 charges originally filed against Robinson were dropped as part of a plea agreement. A pre-sentencing hearing was scheduled for September 15.


100-Year-Old McPherson County Bridge Closed to Traffic

LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) - A century-old central Kansas bridge that one official describes as "fun to drive" has been closed to motor vehicles. The McPherson County Commission voted Monday to follow state recommendations and close the Old Mill Bridge in southern Lindsborg. The one-lane iron bridge over the Smoky Hill River was built in 1914 and is popular with people heading to a pair of small McPherson County parks. Public works engineer Justin Mader says there are other routes, but people take the bridge because it's fun. The span will now be open only to pedestrians and bicycles, after the Kansas Department of Transportation determined it incapable of carrying a minimum load weight of 3 tons.


Kansas Man Gets 7 Years for Theft, Fleeing Police

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man with more than 50 prior felony convictions has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for a series of recent crimes including burglary. The Sedgwick County district attorney says 43-year-old Scott Reineke was sentenced Friday. He was convicted of 11 charges including burglary, theft, possession of stolen property and fleeing law enforcement. Authorities say he was arrested in January after fleeing a routine traffic stop. The county district court judge noted Reineke's criminal history during sentencing.


EPA Lunches Probe into Missouri Food Processor

MONETT, Mo. (AP) — Tyson Foods is the subject of a federal criminal investigation of its role in the discharge of a food supplement into a southwest Missouri town's wastewater treatment plant. The Joplin Globe reports the discharge in May allegedly caused the wastewater plant in Monett to fail, leading to a fish kill in nearby Clear Creek, with more than 100,000 fish dying. Tyson revealed the Environmental Protection Agency's criminal investigation earlier this month in its quarterly notice to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said in a statement Monday that it is cooperating with the investigation. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a six-count lawsuit against Tyson in connection to the discharge.


Police: Equipment Stolen from City of Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Police are investigating the theft of vehicles and tools from a City of Wichita facility. Police say the burglary happened Saturday night or Sunday morning at a city-owned location in south Wichita. They say a 2007 Chevrolet pickup was stolen along with a trailer with city markings. Police are also looking for a Bobcat utility vehicle along with a lawn edger and three chain saws. They say other tools and gardening equipment were also stolen.


Kansas Sex Offender Pleads Guilty to Child Porn

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A registered sex offender from southwest Kansas has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of possessing child pornography. The U.S. Attorney's office says 47-year-old Wade H. Dewey, from the Hamilton County town of Syracuse, entered the plea Monday in federal court in Wichita. Dewey had a 1999 conviction in Pueblo, Colorado, for attempted sexual assault of a child. He admitted Monday that he was found last September with images and videos of child pornography that he obtained via the Internet. Prosecutors and the defense have agreed to recommend a 20-year prison term when Dewey is sentenced on November 4.


Woman Pistol-Whipped, Carjacked at Topeka Motel

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Topeka are looking for two men after a woman reported being pistol-whipped and carjacked outside a motel. WIBW-TV reports that officers were called around 7 am Monday to the Traveler's Inn in the southern part of the city. The victim told police that two men attacked her, then stole her maroon, 2004 Chrysler Pacifica with Kansas plates 406 GGZ. The woman's injuries were not life-threatening.


Memorial Fund to Benefit Deputy, Wife's Children

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A memorial fund has been set up for the children of a Reno County jail deputy and his wife who died in a motorcycle crash during the weekend. Reno County Jail Deputy Shawn Schellenger and his wife, Danielle, died of injuries they suffered Saturday in Great Bend. The sheriff's office says they were on a motorcycle when a trailer detached from an oncoming truck and hit their motorcycle. Danielle Schellenger died Saturday and her husband died Sunday. The sheriff's department said Monday that a memorial fund has been established at the First National Bank of Hutchinson for 5-year-old Warren Schellenger and his sister, 7-year-old Dominique. Both children were on other motorcycles when the accident happened. They were not hurt and are currently being cared for by a family friend.


National Aviation Research Lab Expands in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The National Institute for Aviation Research in Wichita is using a new laboratory to test how to safely carry pressurized oxygen bottles on airplanes. The research is being conducted at the new Ballistics and Impact Dynamics Lab for B/E Aerospace in Olathe. The lab, operated by Wichita State University, cost $300,000 to set up inside the former Britt Brown Arena at the Kansas Coliseum. The laboratory will be used to conduct high-risk tests on other materials used in airplanes, such as fuel tanks. NIAR officials say the next step will be to add the ability to test bird-strike and high velocity projectile impacts later this year.


Ex-Crime Stoppers Teasurer Sentenced for Theft

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — The former treasurer of a southwest Missouri anti-crime group has been ordered to repay nearly $3,300 he stole from the group. Joplin resident Matthew Paige served as treasurer of Heartland Crime Stoppers from July 2012 to April 2013, when the group's directors noticed problems in its finances and requested an audit. Paige was charged with theft last October and pleaded guilty in May. A judge on Friday placed him on five years of probation and gave him 30 days to repay the stolen money or face up to seven years in prison. Heartland Crime Stoppers was a nonprofit group that offered rewards for tips in solving crimes. The group shut down earlier this year for lack of funds.


Oil Pipeline Opponents Plan Concert in Cornfield

NELIGH, Neb. (AP) — Willie Nelson and Neil Young will headline a concert next month in a Nebraska cornfield organized by opponents of a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from Canada south to the Gulf Coast. Bold Nebraska said Monday the concert will be held September 27 on a farm near Neligh in northeast Nebraska. Tickets go on sale Wednesday. Earlier this year, protesters carved an anti-pipeline message into the cornfield, which is in the path of TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Pipeline critics hope the project will be rejected because they fear it could contaminate groundwater and contribute to pollution. TransCanada has said the pipeline will have upgraded safety measures and should be allowed. The company has already built and is operating the southern leg of the pipeline between Oklahoma and Texas.


Heisman Finalist Collin Klein Returns as K-State Coach

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Collin Klein is back at Kansas State. The former Heisman Trophy finalist is serving as an offensive quality control coach under longtime coach Bill Snyder. It makes sense, too, considering the two are known for their attention to detail, their toughness and their ability to inspire others. In fact, the only difference between them may be their ages: Snyder turns 75 in October and Klein turns 25 next month. Klein said he feels blessed to be back at Kansas State, but also acknowledged some anxiety. For one thing, everyone still remembers what he accomplished on the field. For another thing, he's not quite sure what an offensive quality control coach does. He hopes to have that figured out by the season opener against Stephen F. Austin on August 30.



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