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Regional Headlines for Friday, August 31, 2012



Kansas Court to Hear Power Plant Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The legal fight over an air quality permit for a coal-fired power plant to be built in southwestern Kansas is going before the state Supreme Court. The court was scheduled to hear arguments Friday over the permit for Sunflower Electric Power Corporation's plant near Holcomb. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups contend the permitting process was flawed. They argue the Kansas Department of Health and Environment took shortcuts for political reasons. Attorneys for Hays-based Sunflower and the state will argue the permit process relied on the best available scientific data, assuming the plant would use modern technology to reduce emissions.


Kansas Farm Tour Highlights Agricultural Concerns

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Farm Bureau holds its annual governor's tour next week, giving farmers and agribusiness leaders a chance to talk with state officials about issues ranging from drought to regulations. The tour takes place Tuesday. Governor Sam Brownback and state Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman are both expected to participate. Stops will include the Don and Linda Sale farm in Cherryvale and at Genetic Horizons in Galesburg.



Kansas Officials to Amtrak: No Funding for Route

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico transportation officials say the states don't have funding to save Amtrak's Southwest Chief route through the three states. The funding problems could cause western Kansas to lose easy access to Amtrak passenger service. Amtrak wants the three states to jointly spend $100 million in the next decade to improve tracks between Hutchinson and Garden City that are in such poor condition the train has to slow down on its daily route. The Hutchinson News reports that Amtrak also wants the states to split $10 million a year in operating subsidies with Amtrak and BNSF Railroad, which owns the tracks. Dennis Slimmer, of the Kansas transportation department, says the states are looking for solutions, but don't have the millions needed to maintain the route.


Topeka Man Sentenced to Life for Fatal Wreck

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man was sentenced to life in prison for fleeing from police and causing an accident that killed one man and injured several others. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County Judge David Debenham will recommend that 34-year-old Kody Shane Godfrey serve his sentence at Larned State Hospital. Godfrey, who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was sentenced for felony first-degree murder and other charges. Topeka police say Godfrey hit three cars at a Topeka intersection last November, killing 22-year-old Jordan Dodgen of Shawnee. Godfrey sped off when an officer tried to make a routine traffic stop. The pursuit lasted only about 30 seconds before Godfrey's pickup hit three cars stopped at the intersection.


Minimum-Security Unit to Open at Ellsworth Prison

ELLSWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A new minimum-security unit is set to open at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts will be among those attending the grand opening Friday at the Ellsworth prison's east unit. It will house 95 minimum security inmates. The unit will be in the former St. Francis Academy Ellsworth. The state bought the building this summer for about $350,000. Prison spokesman Todd Britton says the state put another $100,000 in renovations into the building. Sixty-eight inmates will be moved into the unit on Tuesday.


Topeka Man Sentenced in Deer Poaching Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man will serve 15 consecutive weekends in jail for killing a whitetail buck that would have set a state record if it had been hunted legally. David Kent was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in jail, to be served on weekends, and $1,500 in fines. He also was ordered to pay $8,000 in restitution to the landowner in Osage County where he shot the deer in November 2011. He also lost his hunting privileges for five years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kent claimed he shot the 14-point buck in Nemaha County while legally hunting during the firearm deer season. He was arrested after wildlife agents compared the deer's antlers to a photo that showed the buck was alive in the fall in Osage County.


KU Professor Creates Anti-Bullying Program

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas schools are about to get some help confronting bullying. University of Kansas psychology professor Robert Harrington is creating a certificate program to help schools address the problem. The program will be available online for educators across the state. Kansas is not among the 33 states with statewide policies on school bullying. Instead, districts adopt their own. Harrington analyzed about half of the Kansas policies. Harrington found none included language on when parents should be notified of bullying. Also, very few involved training for teachers or parents on how to handle bullying. The program will show teachers and schools methods to curb bullying, such as problem-solving conflict resolution, anger control, social skills training, relaxation and tolerance training. It also discourages suspending bullies, saying the traditional punishment doesn't curb the problem.


Chances to Be Offered for Muzzleloader Deer Hunt at Kanopolis

KANOPOLIS, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says a few lucky people could win a chance to hunt deer with muzzleloaders on land near Kanopolis Lake. The corps says names will be drawn to hunt at the assigned area. One hunter and a guest will hunt September 17-23, while a second hunter and guest will hunt September 24-30. The Salina Journal reports hunters must have a hunter education certificate and valid hunting license. They also will need to carry a special hunt permit issued by the corps. Normally, only shotgun and archery hunting is allowed below the dam at Kanopolis Lake. Interested persons should call contact the corps' information center at (785) 546-2294, or email by 4 pm September 10.


Jenkins Comment Criticized


COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic challenger is taking exception to comments made by 2nd District Representative Lynn Jenkins at a forum in southeastern Kansas. Jenkins said in Columbus Wednesday that some people are happy to collect unemployment benefits rather than work. The Joplin Globe reports that Jenkins made the statement during a gathering with a handful of candidates and residents in Cherokee County. She is being challenged in November by Topeka minister Tobias Schlingensiepen. He said the comment showed that Jenkins has spent too much time in Washington and is out of touch with her district. The 2nd District stretches from far southeastern Kansas north to the Nebraska border. Jenkins is seeking her third term.


Accused KC Catholic Bishop: 'Boys Will Be Boys'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An employee of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph says the bishop commented that "boys will be boys" when he was told about lewd images of children on a priest's laptop computer. The Kansas City Star reports that diocese computer director Julie Creech described her conversation with Bishop Robert Finn during an August 17th deposition. A partial transcript of the deposition was filed Thursday in a civil lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court. That lawsuit alleges the Reverend Shawn Ratigan abused a 9-year-old girl months after the diocese learned of the photos on his computer. Ratigan has pleaded guilty to federal charges of producing child pornography. Finn and the diocese are charged in state court with misdemeanor failure to report suspected child abuse. Finn has pleaded not guilty.


Kansas Man Gets Probation for Copper Thefts

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who admitted stealing copper from dozens of air conditioning units won't be going to jail. KAKE-TV reports 41-year-old Byron Stuckey was sentenced Thursday to a year in prison, but the judge suspended the sentence to 12 months of probation. Stuckey was arrested by Wichita police in July, allegedly while trying to steal an air conditioner from a vacant home. He pleaded guilty in Sedgwick County District Court to one count each of felony theft and trying to elude officers. Police have said they believe Stuckey vandalized or stole 68 air conditioners from homes and churches in the Wichita area since January. The cost of replacing the damaged units was estimated at more than $100,000, while the stolen scrap metal was valued at roughly $6,800.


KC Residents to Vote on Anti-Nuke Measure

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City residents will be able to vote on whether to limit the city's involvement in construction of plants manufacturing parts for nuclear weapons. Anti-nuke activists have been trying for two years to get the measure on the ballot. It's in response to construction of a new federal weapons plant in south Kansas City. The council voted Thursday to put the measure on the ballot next April. The Kansas City Star reports that the council had previously refused the effort. But council members said the city charter forced them to put the issue on the ballot because a group called Peace Planters had gathered the required number of petition signatures. If passed, the measure would forbid the city from subsidizing any facilities that produce or procure parts for nuclear weapons.



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