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Regional Headlines for Friday, April 26, 2013


Governor Brownback Sees Need for Quick Approval of NBAF Bonds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says state legislators need to quickly approve $202 million in new bonds for a new, national biosecurity lab because of the federal government's ongoing budget problems. Brownback said Friday it's best to get the financing resolved soon for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility planned at Kansas State University. President Barack Obama's proposed budget includes $714 million for the lab. It would study animal diseases and ways to protect the nation's food supply and replace an aging facility on Plum Island, New York. Kansas already has issued $105 million in bonds, but the president's budget requires the additional amount. Some GOP state legislators are wary. Brownback says he understands concerns about debt but doesn't want lingering uncertainty about the project's funding. Lawmakers return from their spring break May 8.


Obama Signs Disaster Declaration for February KS Snows

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — President Obama has formally declared a major disaster from the February snowstorms in Kansas. The official disaster designation announced Friday makes federal funding available to supplement state and local recovery efforts. It covers the period of February 20-23, when back-to-back storm systems dumped record amounts of snow in parts of Kansas. The money can be used by state and local governments and some nonprofit groups on a cost-sharing basis to cover emergency measures or to replace storm-damaged buildings and equipment in 23 affected counties. Some counties qualify for assistance for longer periods during or close to the covered dates. The move also makes federal money available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.


Appeals Court Upholds Keystone Pipeline Tax Ruling

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling in 2012 by a state tax court affirming a property tax exemption for a Canadian company building the Keystone XL pipeline. In a ruling written by Judge David Bruns, the appeals court ruled Friday that TransCanada was entitled to the property tax exemption because Kansas refineries have indirect access to the crude oil passing through the pipeline daily. Six south-central Kansas counties appealed the Court of Tax Appeals ruling last year, saying they were entitled to levy taxes against TransCanada because there was no direct access to the oil in Kansas. The pipeline segment is part of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that will extend from Canada to the Gulf Coast in Texas.


Hostess to Reopen, Expand Emporia Plant

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — The investment partnership that bought Hostess Brands' snack cake product lines says it will reopen its eastern Kansas bakery this summer, with hiring of an initial 250 people already underway. The Emporia plant had more than 550 employees when it was shut down last November following a strike by union bakers. Emporia City Commissioner Jon Geitz tells KVOE-AM that Thursday's announcement by Hostess Brands LLC was good news for the city. The new company had paid $410 million for the rights to the Hostess and Dolly Madison snack cake brands as well as five plants, but Geitz said the reopening of the Emporia plant had not been assured until Thursday. Hostess Brands officials said they'll expand the bakery and are aiming for total employment of about 300 within the next few years.


Kansas Governor Says Higher Ed Deserves to Avoid Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says he's asked the Kansas higher education system to take on additional work, and it deserves to avoid cuts in state funding. The Republican governor on Friday wrapped up a week of touring state university and college campuses with a visit to Washburn University in Topeka. Brownback has used his tour to highlight the importance of higher education and campaign for his proposal to keep funding for the schools at current levels in the budget year that starts July 1. Legislators are considering cuts and reconvene May 8 to wrap up business for the year. Brownback said the state is pushing its universities to produce more engineers. He noted the University of Kansas Medical Center has expanded its programs in Wichita and opened a campus in Salina.

Surplus Tobacco Settlement Funds Spark Kansas Debate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's share of tobacco settlement funds has come in higher than expected for the second year in a row, prompting a debate in Topeka over where the extra money should go. Several tobacco companies agreed in 1998 to reimburse states for smoking-related costs over more than two decades, and Kansas law requires the money to be spent on early childhood programs. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that any money left over is supposed to go into the Kansas Endowment for Youth to help fund the programs when the settlement funds run out. This year Kansas had budgeted $55.8 million from the settlement, but instead received a check for $60.2 million. Children's advocates say the extra money should go into the endowment, but lawmakers say it's needed elsewhere in tight economic times.

Kansas Crime Victims to Rally at Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas crime victims and a host of other advocates and public officials are rallying for victims' rights as part of a national awareness effort. Friday's event starts at noon on the south side of the Kansas Statehouse. Several victims are scheduled to speak about their experiences. Others on the program include Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts and Dorthy Stucky Halley, victim services director for the Kansas attorney general's office. Following the rally, participants will hold a walk around the Statehouse grounds to promote increased rights for victims of crimes. The event coincides with National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which ends Saturday.

Kansas to Honor 2 Slain Topeka Police Officers

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is honoring two Topeka officers who were killed on duty last year by adding their names to the Law Enforcement Memorial on the Statehouse grounds. The state plans to remember their deaths during its annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on May 3 outside the Statehouse. A candlelight vigil is scheduled for the night before at the memorial, on the northeast part of the grounds. Topeka police Corporal David Gogian and Officer Jeffrey Atherly were shot to death in December while checking possible drug activity outside a supermarket. Their killer later was fatally shot by law enforcement officers.

State of Kansas Suspends Accused Doctor's Medical License

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have indefinitely suspended the medical license of a Manhattan doctor linked to drug overdoses among active-duty Fort Riley soldiers. The Kansas Board of Healing Arts on Thursday cited the criminal charge filed against Michael P. Schuster in making its decision. The board also issued a public censure. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the board's decision through an open records request. Schuster has 15 days to request a hearing before the order becomes permanent. The 53-year-old physician is charged in a federal criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute drugs. He remains jailed pending a detention hearing Tuesday. State regulators also revealed that Schuster on Tuesday voluntarily surrendered to the Justice Department his license from the Drug Enforcement Agency that had allowed him to prescribe controlled substances.


Judge Orders Contempt Hearing Against Kansas Nurse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has begun contempt proceedings against a Haysville nurse convicted in a moneymaking conspiracy linked to 68 overdose deaths. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot on Friday ordered Linda Schneider to show why she should not be held in civil contempt for refusing to obey the court's orders. Prosecutors say she failed to sell a villa in Acapulco and bring back to the United States money in a Mexican bank account to pay a $1.27 million forfeiture judgment. Defense attorney Jim Pratt declined comment. Linda Schneider and her physician husband, Stephen Schneider, were convicted in 2010 of unlawfully prescribing drugs, fraud and money laundering. He is serving 30 years in prison, she is serving 33 years. If found in contempt, the court can order her to serve consecutive sentences.


Teen Charged with Abandoning Corpse in Boy's Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City teenager is charged with abandoning a corpse after the body of a 14-year-old was found in a dirt pile on the city's south side. A probable cause statement says 17-year-old Jonathon Davis told police the victim was accidentally shot by a sibling and later buried between 3 am and 4 am Monday under dirt in a nearby cul-de-sac. The victim's mother reported him missing Monday, but he wasn't found until Wednesday morning after family members heard rumors that he had been accidentally shot inside a townhome and buried nearby. Davis says nobody called an ambulance because it was obvious the victim was already dead. Police also arrested two juveniles in connection with the death. They are expected to be charged in juvenile court.

Kansas Group Focuses on Drought, Cattle Grazing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farm groups are hosting a ranch tour focusing on the drought and how to best manage resources to survive the upcoming grazing season. The Kansas Graziers Association says the tour will take place May 11 at the Ted Alexander Ranch, located 19 miles west of Medicine Lodge in south-central Kansas. Morning presentations will cover drought management. Lunch will be followed up with a tour of the ranch. The Alexander ranch covers 7,000 acres in the heart of the Red Hills in Barber County. The operation typically stocks between 500 and 700 cow-calf pairs or 2,500 yearlings on a rotational grazing method.


Chinese Auto Parts to Open Plant in KC Suburb

RIVERSIDE, Mo. (AP) — A Chinese firm plans to build an automotive parts factory in the Kansas City suburb of Riverside. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced Friday that the $45 million plant would create 263 new manufacturing jobs. The plant will be owned by Yanfeng USA Automotive Trim Systems, a Michigan-based subsidiary of Yanfeng Visteon of China. Construction of the 258,000 square-foot plant is expected to begin next month, with the plant expected to open in early 2014. The plant will manufacture interior trim components such as door panels, floor consoles and instrument panels for the General Motors plants in Kansas City, Kansas and Wentzville, Missouri. The Missouri Department of Economic Development says the project could receive nearly $8 million of incentives through various state programs.


Books About Dogs Nab Kansas Children's Book Awards

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Books about a guinea pig who thinks she's a dog and a sixth-grader who helps a neglected dog have won William Allen White Children's Book Awards. Emporia State University announced the winners in a news release Thursday. Given since 1952, the award is one of only a few that asks young readers to pick the winners. "Guinea Dog" by Patrick Jennings won in the third- through fifth-grade category. It's about a boy who wants a dog but is given a guinea pig instead. "Ghost Dog Secrets" by Peg Kehret won in the sixth- through eighth-grade category. It recounts what happens when a boy starts caring for a dog left chained in frigid weather with no food, water or shelter. The authors have been invited to an October 5 awards ceremony in Emporia.

Hutchinson Shelter for Homeless to Open Monday

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — An emergency homeless shelter will open in Hutchinson Monday, thanks to a lot of help from volunteers and donors. New Beginnings says it will open the NOEL Lodge on Monday afternoon. It will have 25 beds, with men's and women's dormitories and three family rooms. An open house for the public will be held Saturday. The Hutchinson News reports that the shelter was to open in February but was delayed after inspectors found problems with a firewall, requiring New Beginnings to raise another $25,000. Four Hutchinson churches contributed thousands of dollars in materials and labor. Other churches and several contractors also offered donations or reduced labor. Previously, Hutchinson didn't have an emergency homeless shelter. Instead, New Beginnings distributed hotel vouchers for one night at a time during extreme weather.

Salina Man Can Withdraw Plea in Child's Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A judge allowed a Salina man to withdraw his no contest plea in the death of his girlfriend's 14-month-old son. The judge ruled Friday that Antonio M. Brown Sr. will instead go to trial on first-degree murder and child abuse charges in the October 2011 death of Clayden Lee Urbanek in Salina. Saline County District Court Judge Rene Young ruled Brown's attorney gave him inaccurate advice on the prison sentence he would receive by pleading no contest. Brown escaped for two days from the Saline County jail in February while awaiting sentencing. The toddler's mother, Brittney N. Betzold, is serving about 13 years in prison for her role in her son's death. The Salina Journal reports that a trial was scheduled for July 17 but it is expected to be granted a continuance.


Pipe Bomb Turns Up in Wichita Storage Unit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman had a nasty surprise when she discovered a pipe bomb among items she brought home from a self-storage unit. KSNW-TV reports the explosive device turned up Thursday while the woman was going through bags of items she retrieved from the storage unit to prepare for a garage sale. The device was described as a length of plastic pipe with a fuse sticking out. The woman called police, who summoned the bomb squad and cleared parts of the neighborhood. The bomb squad detonated the device without incident. Police are trying to figure out who put the pipe bomb in the storage unit, which the woman shared with another person.

Federal Court Issues Mixed Ruling on Missouri Funeral Protests

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a Missouri law banning protests within 300 feet of funerals, but has struck down a broader law that could have kept protesters even further away. The decision Friday by a panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stems from a challenge to a pair of 2006 Missouri laws enacted after protests of military members' funerals by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, which denounces homosexuality. The appeals court said a Missouri law barring protests "in front of or about any location at which a funeral is held" violates First Amendment free speech rights because it creates a buffer zone of an undetermined size. It upheld a separate law setting the 300-foot buffer around funerals but said it cannot apply to funeral processions.


Suspect Tries to Run from Kansas Courthouse

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A man from Colorado who had just been found guilty of a drug charge decided he didn't want to hang around a Kansas county courthouse. Ellis County officials say Nathan Beougher of Colorado Springs, Colo., took off running Thursday after a judge revoked his bond and ordered him jailed for intent to distribute marijuana. Beougher was subdued by two law officers before he got out of the courthouse, with several other officers arriving on the scene to help. The incident happened at 5:30 pm, shortly after most people had left the courthouse. No one was injured. The Hays Daily News reports that county officials have been pushing courthouse security as one of the reasons to pass a proposed sales tax, which would be partially used for courthouse renovations.

Wichita State Stresses Applied Learning, Research

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University's new strategic plan focuses on making the school an international leader in applied learning and research. The university unveiled the plan Thursday. It includes goals to strengthen Wichita State's reputation as a research university by increasing projects and efforts to keep students on campus longer. The plan also seeks to make applied learning or research experience a part of every student's academic career. That would allow students to apply the education they are receiving while they are in school. The Wichita Eagle reports that most applied learning currently occurs through internships or the university's cooperative education program. But only a small fraction of the university's 15,000 students enroll in those programs. A 30-member committee devised the plan after receiving thousands of suggestions from the public.

Kansas Expects Results of 'In Cold Blood' DNA Tests in May

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas official says the state expects to have results early next month from DNA testing done on remains from two men executed for the 1959 slayings that inspired Truman Capote's classic book, "In Cold Blood." Officials in Florida sought the tests to see whether Perry Smith and Richard Hickock can be linked to decades-old multiple murders of four Walker family members south of Sarasota, Fla. Those killings occurred only weeks after the murders of four Clutter family members in their farmhouse outside the small southwest Kansas town of Holcomb. Deputy Director Kyle Smith said Thursday that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation expects to have results in eight to 10 days. Kansas executed Smith and Hickock for the Clutter murders in 1965. Their remains were exhumed in December.

Topeka Police Investigate Explosive Device Report

TOPEKA, Kan. — Topeka police say they were called to investigate a report of an explosive device inside a home last (THUR) night. Surrounding homes were evacuated and residents of houses further away were told to stay inside and away from windows. A bomb disposal unit was called to investigate and determined the device was inert and not a threat. The area was declared clear around 8 pm.


NASCAR Defends Penalties Levied Against Matt Kenseth

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — NASCAR is defending the severity of the penalties levied against Joe Gibbs Racing for using an illegal part in Matt Kenseth's engine. NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton says series officials aren't charged with determining intent or if the infraction provided an advantage. Joe Gibbs Racing was stripped of everything except the trophy from Kenseth's victory Sunday at Kansas Speedway because one connecting rod in his engine did not meet the minimum weight requirement. Kenseth was docked 50 points, including the bonus points for the win. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff was fined $200,000, and Ratcliff and car owner Joe Gibbs were suspended six races. The engine came from Toyota Racing Development, which took responsibility for the mistake. Pemberton says NASCAR won't punish outside vendors because teams are responsible for their cars.

NASCAR Driver Patrick Wants Gilliland to Heed His Own Advice

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Danica Patrick thinks David Gilliland should heed his own advice. And she also would prefer if Gilliland started racing her a little cleaner. Gilliland said after Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway that Patrick should "shut up and race," after she complained over her radio about the way he races her. On Friday, Patrick suggested Gilliland does not race her the same way he races other drivers, and it dates back almost a year to Darlington last season. Patrick made an appearance Wednesday on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," joking about her road rage in a race car. But she insists the issue with Gilliland was not an incident of road rage, and that Gilliland does not race her appropriately.


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