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Regional Headlines for Friday, December 28, 2012

KU Dean Apologizes for Joke About Turkey Incident

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A University of Kansas School of Education dean has apologized for a crude joke about a turkey that was abused and killed at a fraternity house party earlier this month. A woman in Indiana emailed three deans at the Lawrence campus after reading about the rented turkey being chased and choked before a student killed the bird to end its suffering. The Kansas City Star reports one of the deans, Jim Lichtenberg, wrote an email making fun of the incident and including a slang term describing masturbation. Lichtenberg meant to send the email only to the other deans, but the Indiana woman also received it. On Thursday, Lichtenberg sent the woman an apology saying he should never have written the email and calling it a "personal and professional embarrassment."


Woman, Toddler Die in Dodge City House Fire

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in Dodge City say a house fire that killed two people has been ruled accidental. Six people were in the home when the fire broke out around 11 a.m. Thursday. Four people managed to escape, but KAKE-TV reports a woman and a 2-year-old boy were killed. Investigators believe the fire started in the living room. They're still trying to pinpoint the cause. An off-duty police officer reported seeing smoke coming from the home and called 911.


Man to Stand Trial in Shootout with Kansas Trooper

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A bank robbery suspect accused of exchanging gunfire with a Kansas trooper while fleeing with a woman and three children will face trial. After a preliminary hearing Thursday, 31-year-old Jason Gleason of Lyons was bound over for trial on charges including attempted first-degree murder. The Salina Journal reports that Gleason was spotted in a sport utility vehicle with his girlfriend, Chrystal Bell, and her children several hours after the Oct. 9 bank robbery. Bell testified that Gleason refused to leave the vehicle and told her to keep driving. She didn't stop until the engine quit near Gypsum in central Kansas. According to testimony, a bullet Gleason fired struck Bell's 12-year-old son in the mouth and lodged in Bell's abdomen. Gleason's attorney says there's no evidence Gleason intended to kill.


Largest KS Wind Farm to Go Online Within Days

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A largest wind farm in Kansas is scheduled to start operating within days in the southern part of the state with the capacity to provide electricity to 160,000 homes. Flint Ridge 2 is jointly owned by BP Wind Energy and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power. It will have 294 wind turbines on 66,000 acres in parts of Harper, Barber, Kingman and Sumner counties. A BP spokesman declined to say when the $800 million project will begin operating other than it's planned by the "end of the year." BP says it has more land in Kansas where it can place turbines. But The Kansas City Star reports plans are on hold until the future of the Production Tax Credit is resolved. The credit expires at the end of the month.


Infantry Team Begins Returning to Fort Riley

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team begin returning to Fort Riley this weekend from Afghanistan. Officials say the first group of about 150 soldiers will be reunited with family and friends at a welcome-home ceremony. The event is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Saturday at the northeast Kansas post. Members of the brigade deployed to Afghanistan in April. Their mission focused on promoting the independent operation of the country's government, security forces and economy. The rest of the soldiers from the combat team are scheduled to return to Fort Riley in the following weeks.


KanCare Gives Kansas Jobs Boost

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three managed care organizations have increased their presence in Kansas with staff and facilities as they prepare to begin implementing the KanCare system of Medicaid services. The hiring of several hundred employees — and more likely in the coming years — is an unexpected bonus for Gov. Sam Brownback. New hires mean more revenue and economic activity in Kansas while the state looks to save nearly $1 billion over five years by curbing the growth in its share of health care costs. Kansas awarded the management contracts in June to Amerigroup Corp.; Sunflower State Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene Corp., and United Healthcare. Each has hired several hundred employees to execute their contract. The 395,000 KanCare participants will be assigned to one of the three MCOs.


For Some, KS Campground is Home, Even in Winter

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — For some, a northeast campground has become a cold, squalid last resort before homelessness. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Campground 3 at Clinton State Park is home to more than a dozen year-round residents. They must haul in their own water in the wintertime because campsite water sources are shut off. Some of the residents want to be there and have well-equipped RVs or campers, while others live in poverty. A few live in tents. Gene and Diane Wallace are living in their recreational vehicle with their two cats. The Wallaces lived in Lawrence before becoming full-time RV residents in August 2011. They weren't prepared to weather the winter in their vehicle. But they found themselves stuck after transmission repairs and a hotel stay set them back financially.


KanCare Program Earns Final Federal Approval

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal officials have finalized terms with Kansas for the state's new managed care plan for Medicaid.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the waiver earlier in December. But federal officials still were working with the state to complete special terms and conditions of the agreement. Gov. Sam Brownback's office says the final terms were approved late Thursday.  The new system for providing Medicaid services to some 395,000 poor and disabled residents is called KanCare. It takes effect January 1. Three managed care organizations have been contracted to provide the services and coordinate care, as well as building provider networks statewide.  Brownback and his administration hope the changes to a more integrated care system will curb the growth of the state's share of health care costs.


Kansas City Stabbing Leaves Cab Driver Scarred

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man is charged with stabbing a cab driver and fleeing with her cab.  Twenty-year-old Julian Rodriguez is jailed in Jackson County on charges of robbery and armed criminal action. No attorney is listed for him in online court records.  Cabbie Shelli Hopkins told The Kansas City Star that her attacker laughed as he stabbed her.  She says that before the December 20 attack, he asked whether she thought it was dangerous for a woman to be driving a cab. She told him she had four children at home and needed the money.  Rodriguez was still driving the cab the day after the attack and was arrested after fleeing from police.  Court records say he confessed, telling authorities the robbery and stabbing were "exhilarating."


Investigation Continues in Fatal Shootings of Topeka Policemen

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Shawnee County sheriff's deputies continue investigating the December 16 killings of two Topeka police officers even though the assailant was shot to death the following day.  Sheriff Herman Jones has asked the county commission for overtime expenses for the investigation into the deaths of police Officer Jeff Atherly and Cpl. David Gogian.  The two were shot to death while checking possible drug activity outside a Topeka supermarket. Their killer, 22-year-old David Tiscareno, was shot and killed by law enforcement officers December 17.  Jones told The Topeka Capital-Journal that his office still had some people to interview.  The sheriff told the Shawnee County Commission his office would need $8,000 from its 2012 budget to help pay overtime in 2013 for the investigation.


Speeding Car Goes Airborne in Wichita, Killing Two Men

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are investigating whether speed and alcohol were factors in a one-car crash that killed two men.  The accident happened around 2:30am Thursday in western Wichita. Police say the car struck a culvert, then went airborne and hit a power pole and utility lines.  Police say the driver, 21-year-old Marcus McClellan, died at the scene. His 22-year-old passenger, Devan Krausch, was thrown from the car and died later at a hospital.  A witness reported seeing a car speeding, followed by a flash from the falling power lines. Westar Energy said the crash knocked out power to about 500 customers.


Murder Charge Refiled against Lawrence Man

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence man whose conviction in the 2006 killing of his girlfriend was overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court will face trial again.  The Douglas County district attorney has refiled a charge of second-degree murder against 41-year-old Christopher Belone.  That's the same charge on which a jury convicted Belone in 2007 for the death of Linda Begay. The Lawrence woman died of an abdominal infection several days after she was beaten in the stomach with the leg of a coffee table.  The state's high court ordered a new trial in September, ruling a jury should not have been allowed to hear a taped interview Begay gave investigators before she died.  Belone remains held at the Douglas County Jail.


Woman Gets Protection Order Against Her KS Parents

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City woman studying music theater at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music has won a stalking protection order against her parents.  The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that 21-year-old Aubrey Ireland of Leawood has convinced a Cincinnati judge that her parents have been harassing her.  She says they often showed up unannounced at her school and told her department head she had mental issues that could force them to go to court to have her treated.  Her parents admitted they installed monitoring software on their daughter's laptop and cellphone. Aubrey said it was like she was "a dog with a collar on."  Her mother, Julie Ireland, told the judge her daughter has been "catered to all her life by loving parents" and insisted they "weren't bothering her."


Hutchinson Man Will Stand Trial for Battery of Officer

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A judge has determined there's enough evidence to try a Hutchinson man with attacking an officer.  The Hutchinson News reports that 21-year-old Christopher Robert White now is scheduled to be arraigned January 7 on two counts of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer.  During Thursday's preliminary hearing in Reno county, police testified that White was riding his bicycle in the middle of a street in June, screaming and acting bizarrely.  One of the officers testified that White then rode at him full speed, dove off of the bike and tackled him. The officer sustained a concussion, and another officer sprained his knee subduing White.  The judge also ruled that White violated his probation in a 2009 misdemeanor theft case and ordered him to serve a year in jail.


"Suicide Pact" Suspected by KS Prison Officials

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson Correctional Facility officials suspect there was a "suicide pact" among three inmates who attempted to simultaneously hang themselves in their cells.  Prison spokesman Dirk Moss said Thursday that the investigation into the October 30 suicide attempts is "mostly complete." He says the inmates were each in individual cells in the segregation unit, and some of them were adjoining.  The Hutchinson News reports that the inmates used bedding, "primarily sheets," in the hanging attempt.  The inmates were taken to the internal prison clinic for treatment, and two were transferred to a Wichita hospital due to the extent of their injuries.  All three were returned to the prison population within a few days. Their names haven't been released.


Beagle Rescued from Icy KS Lagoon

GODDARD, Kan. (AP) — A family in south-central Kansas has learned that a two-inch layer of ice over a frigid pond isn't thick enough to support a small dog.  KWCH-TV reports a 7-year-old beagle named Bear slipped under a fence around a wastewater lagoon at his owners' home Wednesday and fell through the ice. The dog's owner, Patricia Wilson of Goddard, says she tried to rescue Bear. But the woman fell into the water too.  Bear was rescued after nearly an hour by Sedgwick County Fire crews wearing special cold-weather wet suits. The beagle's temperature was down to 83 degrees — more than 15 below normal — when he reached the veterinarian's office. He was reported to be recovering later Wednesday.  Wilson says she'll keep all of her dogs indoors for now.


KS Veteran Finally Receives Korea Service Medal

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Fifty-seven years after he served with the Army in Korea, a northeastern Kansas man has finally received official recognition in the form of a medal.  The Daily Union in Junction City reports that Donald Hamilton received the Korea Defense Service Medal during a ceremony at the American Legion.  The medal was created in 2002 for members of the U.S. military who served in the Republic of Korea after the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement.  Hamilton served from April 1953 to May 1955 with a military police battalion in Taejon. The Junction City resident was a train guard commander, transporting prisoners, supplies, fuel tanks and troops.  Hamilton's varied civilian career includes service with the Junction City and Manhattan police departments and the presidency of the Fort Riley Credit Union.


Liberal Police Officer Dismissed over Warrant

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — A Liberal police officer has been dismissed after an outstanding warrant for him was discovered.  Robert A. Buchanan was accused in late 2009 of not returning a laptop computer to his employer, the western Oklahoma oil-services company Schlumberger.  The Hutchinson News reports that an arrest warrant was filed in January 2010 in Beckham County, Okla. It stated that there was an anticipated charge or charges of embezzlement.  The warrant came to light in Hays on December 18 when a vehicle hit a Liberal police car that Buchanan and another officer were using to transport a prisoner. A check of Buchanan's driver's license turned up the outstanding warrant.  Liberal police say the warrant hadn't shown up in previous background checks. Buchanan doesn't have a listed phone number. 


New Kansas Senate President Fills Out Office Staff

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Incoming Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle has appointed three new aides, filling her last staff vacancies.  The Wichita Republican announced Thursday that Harrison Hems will be her legislative director. Hems will leave the Kansas Department of Transportation, where he's been a liaison to Congress.  Wagle appointed Jan Johnston as executive assistant. Johnston most recently worked in the Kansas House as an aide to Republicans Clay Aurand of Belleville and Elaine Bowers of Concordia.  The new Senate president's personal secretary will be Margaret Cianciarulo (see-ahn-SEE'-ah-roo-loh). She's been Wagle's secretary during legislative sessions since 2001.  Wagle already has named former House staffers Ryan Gilliland and Aly Rodee as her chief of staff and communications director.  Wagle becomes Senate president when lawmakers open their 2013 session on January 14.


3rd Summit to Discuss KS Flint Hills Development

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials will hold a third summit meeting next month on economic development issues in the Flint Hills.  Governor Sam Brownback will host the meeting January 11 at the Rock Springs 4-H Ranch south of Junction City.  The Flint Hills region is generally defined as an area of eastern stretching from just south of the Nebraska border to the Oklahoma line. Brownback has placed an emphasis on developing economic initiatives in the Flint Hills region.  One goal of the summit meetings has been to come up with ideas for developing a tourism economy in the region to take advantage of its natural beauty.


KS Natural Resource Meeting Set for Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The sixth annual gathering of Kansas natural resources professionals takes place next month in Wichita.  The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says the Kansas Natural Resource Conference is set for January 24-25.  This year's conference will focus partly on invasive species such as the emerald ash borer, which has been destroying trees in Kansas and several other states.  Other session topics will include aquatics, forestry, pasture and wetlands.  The Kansas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Society of American Foresters, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams are among the conference sponsors.



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