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Regional Headlines for Friday, January 18, 2013



Kansas Governor Proposes Cut in Ethics Commission Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is proposing to cut the budget of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission by 9.3 percent. The commission's executive director, Carol Williams, says the $65,000 cut would prevent the agency from doing random, in-depth audits of candidates or political groups. Williams said Friday the commission has held one of its two auditing positions vacant for more than a year, anticipating that its budget could decrease. Brownback is proposing to reduce the commission's budget to about $632,000 in the fiscal year that starts July 1. His recommendation would cost the agency a full-time employee, leaving it with seven full-time and two part-time staffers. Brownback told reporters the state faces a tough budget environment.


UPDATE: 2 Charged in Northeast Kansas Homicide 

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — Two people have been charged in the shooting death of a northeast Kansas man. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 22-year-old Lloyd Alan Wabaunsee, of Mayetta, and 22-year-old Desiree Shopteese, of Topeka, are charged with intentional second-degree murder. They're accused in the January 10 killing of 29-year-old Kevin Stanley in Mayetta. Jackson County Attorney Shawna Miller disclosed Friday that Wabaunsee was charged January 11 and Shopteese on Monday. Both are in custody in Iowa. Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse says the suspects were captured late Thursday in Urbandale, Iowa, after they were found hiding in the trunk of a car. It's unclear if they have lawyers. Shopteese was at one time engaged to marry David Tiscareno, who shot and killed two Topeka police officers December 16 and was shot to death the next day.


Kansas Proposal Would Drug Test Benefit Recipients

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate leader is preparing legislation to require drug testing for people who receive cash assistance from the state. Senate Vice President Jeff King said Friday his proposal would also deny unemployment benefits to people who fail drug tests they take when seeking new jobs. King, of Independence, said he expects to have a bill drafted within two weeks. The drug-testing requirement would apply to adults who receive cash benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The proposal would also require prospective employers to tell the state Department of Labor when a job-seeker who's receiving unemployment benefits fails a drug test. King's proposal already has been endorsed by House Speaker Ray Merrick, a conservative Stilwell Republican.


Brownback Names Gordon as Permanent Labor Secretary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has nominated interim labor secretary Lana Gordon to become the permanent head of the Kansas Department of Labor. Brownback announced the nomination Friday. The appointment requires confirmation by the state Senate. Gordon, a Republican, became interim secretary in September, when Brownback abruptly removed Karin Brownlee from the post without comment. The Republican governor says Gordon has done a "great job" while focusing on finding fraud and abuse within the unemployment system and improving the process of filing for jobless benefits. Gordon, of Topeka, served 12 years in the Kansas House but decided last year against running for a seventh term.

Kansas Jobless Rate Unchanged at 5.4 Percent

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says the Kansas unemployment rate held steady at 5.4 percent in December while the state recorded modest job growth over the previous year. The report from the state Labor Department also says last month's jobless figure was down one full point from the 6.4 percent rate of December 2011. The number of Kansans holding nonfarm jobs in December approached 1.4 million, up 1 percent from a year earlier. Professional and business services showed the biggest gain, with employment in that sector up 6.3 percent from December 2011. Labor Department senior economist Tyler Tenbrink says Thursday's report showed Kansas ending the year on a strong economic note.

Kansas Officials Plot Anti-Trafficking Strategy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt are seeking legislation that would increase fines and penalties aimed at curbing child sexual exploitation. The two Republicans say Friday the proposal would crack down on the sexual exploitation of children and trafficking of commercial sexual activity in the state. Schmidt says the proposal would increase the fines for those who are purchasing sexual services in Kansas, raising the penalties to felonies. Schmidt's office is the lead entity of the Kansas Human Trafficking Advisory Board, which was created three years ago to study the problems of forced labor and sex trafficking. The board includes law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, victims of human trafficking and others with expertise in the field.

Kansas Congressman to Remain on Appropriations Panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder is keeping his seat on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee for another two years. The Republican lawmaker is in his second term representing the Kansas 3rd Congressional District, which covers most of the Kansas City metro area. He chaired the Appropriations Committee in the Kansas House before being elected to Congress in 2010. Yoder says he'll serve on an Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture, giving Kansas a voice in congressional oversight of farm programs and policy. Last month, another Kansas congressman — Republican Tim Huelskamp — was removed from the House Agriculture Committee by GOP leaders angered by his positions on issues. Yoder said he'll also serve on an Appropriations subcommittee on general government, and a subcommittee on the State Department and foreign aid programs.

Governor's Budget Includes Crime Lab at Washburn

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's new budget proposal supports plans to build a forensic laboratory for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at Washburn University. The budget unveiled Tuesday by the governor includes using $3.5 million from the Kansas Department of Transportation budget to pay for architectural, engineering and finance planning of the laboratory. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the proposed $40 million lab would be built on land donated by Washburn and financed through bonds issued by the university. While providing KBI with a state-of-the-art facility for DNA testing and other procedures, the laboratory also would allow Washburn to create a forensic science program. The KBI's main office is in Topeka. It also has laboratory space in Topeka, Great Bend, Pittsburg and Kansas City, Kansas.


ACLU Drops Challenge to Kansas Abortion Law

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union has dropped its legal challenge to a Kansas law restricting private health insurance coverage for abortions. A court filing Friday shows the parties have agreed to dismiss all remaining claims. The agreement follows a federal judge's January 7 ruling that the ACLU failed to prove that the Legislature's chief goal in passing the 2011 law was to impede access to abortions. The Kansas law prohibits private insurance companies from offering coverage for abortions in their general plans except for when a woman's life is in danger. Kansas residents or employers who want abortion coverage must buy supplemental policies, known as riders. The case had been scheduled for trial in March. Under the agreement, each side would bear its own costs and attorneys' fees.

Reward Offered in Kansas Cemetery Vandalism Investigation

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A $3,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of vandals who damaged at least 31 headstones at three cemeteries in a Kansas City suburb. The Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas and the city of Shawnee announced the reward Thursday. The vandals hit St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, Pleasant View and Shawnee cemeteries sometime between Friday evening and Saturday morning. The city of Shawnee owns Pleasant View and Shawnee cemeteries.


8-Year-Old Northeast Kansas Girl Drowns in Bathtub

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (AP) — An 8-year-old northeast Kansas girl with a history of health problems apparently drowned while bathing in what authorities believe was an accident. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office says the girl was found unconscious just before 10 pm Thursday at a home east of Baldwin City. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital in Lawrence. Sheriff's officials say a neighbor and emergency responders unsuccessfully performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the girl. The girl lived with her grandparents. Her name was not being released until relatives could be notified.


Newborn Found Dead in Wichita Trash Bin

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are investigating the death of a newborn girl who was left in a trash bin at a shopping center. Officers found the body around 11 p.m. Wednesday in trash at the Eastgate Shopping Mall. Police said Friday they were alerted by staff at a hospital where a 17-year-old girl was admitted earlier in the week. The teen had severe hemorrhaging, and hospital staff said the teen admitted giving birth sometime in the previous week. KAKE-TV reports that investigators are not sure if the newborn girl was alive when someone took her to the mall and placed her in the trash. The teen mother remained hospitalized Friday.

Autopsy: Man in Police Standoff Killed Himself

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina County authorities say an autopsy confirms that a man who was involved in a standoff with police last September killed himself. Nineteen-year-old Marijan Gadson died by shooting himself in the head after hiding in the basement of a home for several hours while police tried to negotiate with him. The autopsy showed he had drugs and alcohol in his system. Salina police officer Chuck Huen was shot in the eye by Gadson when he and four other officers went to a home to investigate a possible stolen car or domestic case. Huen lost his sight in the eye. The Salina Journal reports that Gadson was in the basement of a home when officers arrived and fired four shots. Officers entered the house hours later and found him dead.


Lawrence Man Once Again Found Guilty of 2006 Murder

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A jury found a Lawrence man guilty for the second time in the July 2006 beating death of his girlfriend. Forty-one-year-old Christopher Belone was found guilty of second-degree murder Friday in death of Linda Begay. She died of an infection several days after she was beaten with the leg of a coffee table. The Kansas Supreme Court in September ordered a new trial for Belone, ruling the judge in the first trial should not have allowed statements Begay made to police before she died into evidence. Belone's attorney argued evidence in the case was lost, suggested Begay might have been injured in a bicycle accident and said one of the witnesses should have been considered a suspect. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Belone will be sentenced February 26.


 KU to Offer 6-Year Law Degree

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is starting a program to allow students to earn a law degree in six years, rather than the usual seven. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Law will offer the program, starting with students admitted to Kansas for the fall 2013 semester. 6NewsLawrence reports the program could save students about $18,000 in tuition, and a year of living expenses. University officials also hope it will help retain undergraduate students Students will spend three years in undergraduate studies, then three years in law school. The first year of law school will be considered as elective credits toward a bachelor's degree Applicants must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and minimum ACT score of 28 to be admitted to the program.


Wichita State Hires Media Historian as Director

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University has hired a media historian to lead the Elliott School of Communication. The university announced Friday that Matthew Cecil will begin work as the school's director on June 30. Cecil is currently an associate professor at South Dakota State University's department of journalism and mass communication. Cecil will succeed Lou Heldman, who has served as the school's interim director since 2011. The new director will oversee 30 faculty and staff members and courses for more than 2,000 students at the university's communications school. The university said Cecil is the author of a forthcoming book, "J. Edgar Hoover and the American Press: Journalism, Public Relations and the Legitimation of the FBI." He is also working on a new book about the work of journalist George Seldes.

Finney County Restoring Historic Hotel

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Officials in Finney County say plans are moving forward to renovate the historic Windsor Hotel in downtown Garden City. The Garden City Telegram reports that Don Harness, president of the Finney County Preservation Alliance, said at a meeting Wednesday that the process of renovating the 93-room hotel continues. Harness also says there will likely be more activity this year. The Windsor was built in 1887. The $12 million renovation includes senior living apartments, retail shops and offices, as well as a restaurant and banquet facilities. The project will use both state and federal historic tax credits, as well as a bond through the city of Garden City.


KU Makes Changes to Football Coaching Staff

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas football team's secondary coach, Clint Bowen, will take over as coach of the linebackers after DeMontie Cross decided to leave for a similar position at Big 12 rival TCU. Jayhawks head coach Charlie Weis said Friday that Bowen would switch duties. Bowen was part of the KU staff even before Weis arrived prior to last season. He was the defensive coordinator in 2008, when he helped the Jayhawks to a win in the Insight Bowl. Weis did not say when he planned to hire a new secondary coach, though defensive coordinator Dave Campo' forte is working with defensive backs.

Operation Rescue Files Complaint About New Clinic

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Operation Rescue has filed a formal complaint with Wichita officials about ongoing renovations at the former clinic of slain abortion provider George Tiller. The anti-abortion group's policy director, Cheryl Sullenger, contended Thursday the building's new owners did not obtain required city permits to resurface the parking lot, do landscaping and remodel the clinic. The complaint also alleges the owners improperly completed architectural plans and met with contractors. The building was bought last August by the abortion rights group Trust Women Foundation Inc., which plans to offer a full range of reproductive health care services, including abortions. Trust Women's attorney, Robert Eye, says Operation Rescue's complaint lacks merit. He says the clinic owners are working with experienced people who know whether a permit is required for the work they are doing.

Dodge City Man Charged in Child's Death

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A 28-year-old Dodge City man has been arrested in the 2008 death of his girlfriend's daughter. The Dodge City Globe reports that Brock W. Cunningham was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and felony child abuse in the death of 3-year-old Natalie Pickle. The child was severely injured in Dodge City on November 19, 2008, and died the next day at a Wichita hospital. The case has remained open since authorities ruled the child's death a homicide in 2008. Western Kansas News reports Cunningham told police the child fell off a bed, but an autopsy showed her injuries were inconsistent with a normal fall. Dan Monnat, Cunningham's lawyer, said Friday that Cunningham is innocent of the charges and "had nothing to do with causing her death." He says Cunningham tried to save the child's life that night and has cooperated with law enforcement during the investigation. Cunningham was released on $75,000 bond Thursday.

Federal Reserve Says Farm Income May Drop in 2013

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Federal Reserve says U.S. farm income could decline in 2013, but it depends upon whether the drought continues. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Missouri said Thursday that if drought conditions persist, prices of corn and other crops would remain volatile because of tight supply. But if normal weather conditions return, crop prices would decline and lead to lower farm incomes. The USDA predicted farm income in 2012 would reach $114 billion, which would be the third-highest total on record. Crop insurance and high crop prices last year contributed to that. Current market prices suggest corn and soybean prices could be 10 to 15 percent lower by next fall. The 10th Federal Reserve District covers Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, northern New Mexico and western Missouri.

West Texas Cargill Plant to Cut 2K Jobs

PLAINVIEW, Texas (AP) — Cargill has announced it will idle a West Texas plant and lay off all 2,000 workers because of a tight cattle supply stemming from years of drought. A news release from the Wichita-based company Thursday says the Plainview, Texas workers will be laid off February 1st. Other Cargill plants in the region and in other parts of the country will not affected. The release said the company will work to relocate Plainview employees to its other plants. The nation's cattle herd is at its lowest level since 1952. Higher feed costs from drought in Texas and elsewhere and ranchers' selling off their cattle have reduced the number of animals headed to meatpacking plants. Cargill said it could reopen the plant if cattle numbers increase in coming years.

Kansas Funding for Public Broadcasting Scrutinized

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Sam Brownback is proposing a big cut in state funding for public radio and TV stations, but he also appears to have abandoned a previous effort to eliminate the funding altogether. Brownback told The Associated Press on Thursday that he tried to draft budget proposals for the next two fiscal years that can pass the Legislature. He added that his administration, in his words, "has a lot of irons in the fire." Brownback is proposing $600,000 in funding for public TV and radio in each of the next two fiscal years. The next fiscal year begins July 1st. Two years ago, Brownback sought to end all funding for public broadcasting.

Wichita Police ID Man Found Dead Near Tracks

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita say a man found dead in a wooded area near railroad tracks had been reported missing days earlier. Construction workers came across the frozen body Wednesday morning in the northeastern part of the city. Police said Thursday they've identified the 34-year-old man, but his name was being withheld while relatives were notified. Investigators are calling the death suspicious, partly because there were signs the body had been moved from somewhere else. An autopsy was being conducted Thursday. Police said the man's girlfriend last saw him Friday at a business in west Wichita. She reported him missing on Sunday.

Former Kansas Executive Gets Probation for Fraud

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former executive of a struggling Kansas high-tech company has been given probation for defrauding the United States by creating false invoices on government contracts. Aaron Madison was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Manhattan-based NanoScale, a small company that makes advanced chemistry products. He pleaded guilty earlier to wire fraud. The U.S. attorney's office says Madison was sentenced Thursday to two years of probation and ordered to pay slightly more than $17,211 in restitution. Federal prosecutors said 90 percent of NanoScale's business came from government contracts, most with the Defense Department. Madison was accused of manipulating contract costs between 2009 and 2011 and falsifying invoices to the government to help the company meet payroll and other expenses.


2 People Wanted in Kansas Homicide Found in Iowa

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — Two people wanted for questioning in a northeast Kansas homicide were arrested after being found in a car trunk in Iowa. Jackson County (Kansas) Sheriff Tim Morse says a man and woman were captured Thursday evening in Urbandale, Iowa. Details of their arrest were not immediately available. They are suspects in the January 10 death of 29-year-old Kevin Stanley at his home in Mayetta. The female suspect was the former fiancée of David Tiscareno, who shot and killed two Topeka police officers December 16 and was shot to death the next day. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a woman from Denison and a man from Topeka were arrested for obstruction of justice. Further details were not immediately available.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 

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