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Regional Headlines for Friday, January 4, 2013


UPDATE: School Lockdown Ends After Peaceful Standoff Resolution

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas standoff between police and a suspect in an aggravated robbery has ended peacefully after the suspect surrendered. The incident Friday prompted the lockdown of a nearby Catholic school as a precaution. It ended around 4 pm, when the man gave himself up. Police say they received a report of a burglary around 11 am and later chased a suspect into a home, sparking the standoff. The nearby Resurrection Catholic School was locked down as a precaution. A statement on the school's website said teachers were made aware of the situation but no information was immediately given to the students. Police helped direct parents to a location where they could pick up their children, a few hours before the standoff ended.


Kansas Senator No Longer Top GOP Member of Agriculture Committee

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is no longer the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, but he's pledging to remain a strong advocate for farmers, ranchers and rural areas. Roberts said Thursday that he'll retain a seat on the Agriculture Committee. He also remains on the Finance Committee, and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Roberts says he's also expecting to become the ranking Republican on the Senate Rules Committee. He sees the position as important to opening up debates on issues such as the federal budget deficit. The new ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee is Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who has more seniority than Roberts and had to give up the top GOP spot on the Appropriations Committee.

Kansas A-G to Seek Anti-Gang Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt plans to ask legislators to approve a new law he says will help prosecutors fight gang activity. The Republican attorney general and former state senator says the recommendation for a new anti-racketeering law is a product of a gang task force he assembled in 2012. The proposal would let prosecutors go after gangs for alleged patterns of criminal activity as well as single criminal acts. Schmidt says it would be another way to tackle what he calls the rising presence of street gangs in Kansas. The 2013 legislative session begins January 14.

Kansas City Chiefs Split with General Manager Pioli

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Scott Pioli is out as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. The team announced in a statement Friday that the two sides have "mutually parted ways" after four seasons marked by poor personnel decisions and failed coaching hires. The Chiefs fired coach Romeo Crennel on Monday after going 2-14, matching the worst record in their 53-year history. Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said at the time other changes could be made, and indicated Pioli's future could be determined by their next coach. The Chiefs are nearing a deal with Andy Reid to replace Crennel. The team and the former Eagles coach have been negotiating at length for the past couple of days.


Reid Arrives in KC, Nears Deal to Become Chiefs Head Coach

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Andy Reid has arrived in Kansas City and the Chiefs are close to making an announcement that he will become their new head coach. Reid and the Chiefs have reportedly agreed to a deal giving the longtime Eagles coach broad authority over football decisions. His deal Friday came hours after the Chiefs announced they had parted with general manager Scott Pioli after four tumultuous seasons. Reid would be inheriting a team that was 2-14 and matched the worst finish in franchise history, but that also had five players voted to the Pro Bowl. It's expected that Reid would pursue longtime Packers personnel man John Dorsey, one of his close confidants, to work with him as general manager.


Kansans Injured in Scottsdale Collision Involving Pedi-Cab 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities say a driver is suspected of being impaired after a collision in Scottsdale involving a pedi-cab and a car that injured two Kansas tourists. Scottsdale police say 27-year-old Joseph Spano was arrested on suspicion of DUI, endangerment and aggravated assault. His age and hometown wasn't immediately available Friday and police didn't know if he had a lawyer yet. Police say Cody A. Clark and Michael D. Tysver, both from Great Bend, Kansas, were riding in the pedi-cab and remain hospitalized with head and spine injuries. Friends say both 21-year-old men were in Arizona for Thursday night's Fiesta Bowl involving Kansas State University. The pedi-cab's driver was treated and released from the hospital. He told police he was transporting the Kansas men to their hotel when the accident occurred about 3 am Friday.


Kansas Daredevil Dies in Leap from 393-Foot Tower

MATFIELD GREEN, Kan. (AP) — Friends are mourning an eastern Kansas man who died in a leap from a 393-foot communication tower when his parachute failed to open in time. The Emporia Gazette reports a funeral is scheduled Saturday in Topeka for 50-year-old Frank Hubbell, one week after his death. Chase County Sheriff Richard Dorneker says Hubbell died at the scene from the trauma of the impact. The accident happened in a rural area about seven miles east of Matfield Green. Hubbell's brother Bill told The Gazette his brother had done about 150 so-called BASE jumps. BASE stands for Building, Antennae, Span, Earth. Hubbell was from Tecumseh. The sheriff said he was not aware of any other instance of someone jumping from the tower.

Kansas Chamber Names New Communications Director

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The influential Kansas Chamber of Commerce has created a position to oversee its communications and special events and promoted a staffer internally to fill the new job. Chamber CEO Officer Mike O'Neal announced Thursday that Emily Mitchell will serve as director of communications and special events. Mitchell has been the organization's executive assistant since April 2011. She is a Kansas State University graduate. The chamber's clout grew with the 2012 elections, which saw conservative Republicans retain their majority in the Kansas House and topple moderate GOP leaders in the Senate. Also, O'Neal is the departing House speaker, having decided not to seek re-election to the Legislature last year.


Kansas Group Will Seek to Broaden Liquor Sales

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group that wants Kansans to be able to buy liquor at grocery stores and convenience stores says it will try again to persuade state lawmakers to change state law. Currently, Kansans can buy most liquor only in retail liquor stores, except for 3.2 beer and wine coolers. Uncork Kansas, a coalition of convenience stores, grocery stores, and chambers of commerce, says it plans to introduce a bill to change state law as early in the upcoming legislative session as possible. The Wichita Eagle reports the Kansas Chamber of Commerce announced earlier this week that it will support the effort. But Spencer Duncan, executive director of a group called Keep Kansans in Business, said changing the law would hurt existing stores, especially in rural Kansas.


Mapping of BNSF Railroad Tracks to Be Modernized

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Employees of a Topeka company will be working for the next year to convert 32,000 miles of railroad maps from outdated paper documents into a modern online computer system. Topeka's Bartlett & West will use 100 temporary employees to convert the maps of BNSF Railway Company track and the railroad's land possessions into a geographic information system. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that  railroads are often hampered by having to update maps by hand. Some of the maps date to the 1800s. The GIS system will create interactive maps that can be used to get directions or look up information about a particular property. Bartlett & West says the temporary employees will work two shifts in an effort to complete the project in a year.

Largest Kansas Wind Farm Now Fully Operational

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The largest wind farm ever built in Kansas is now in full commercial operation. BP Wind Energy and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power said Thursday the $800 million Flat Ridge 2 Wind Farm generates 470 megawatts of electricity. Flat Ridge 2 is spread over a 66,000-acre site that spans parts of Harper, Barber, Kingman and Sumner counties in south-central Kansas. The companies say the farm uses 294 turbines each with the capacity to produce 1.6 megawatts, generating enough electricity to power more than 140,000 average American homes. Power generated from the facility will be exported to Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. The project created more than 500 jobs at the peak of construction. About 30 permanent jobs have been created to monitor and maintain it now that it's online.


Kansas Man Pleads Guilty in Painkiller Death

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas man who sold a powerful painkiller patch to another man has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in the buyer's death. The Cherokee County News-Advocate reports 35-year-old David Tirrell, of Scammon, will be sentenced in February for involuntary manslaughter. He was initially charged with felony murder but pleaded to the lesser charge Wednesday under an agreement with the Kansas attorney general's office. Tirrell admitted selling a Fentanyl patch last July 24 to 22-year-old Jordan Krokroskia. The younger man was found dead the following day at his Baxter Springs home. An autopsy showed he died from Fentanyl intoxication. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid roughly 100 times more powerful than morphine. Assistant Attorney General Amanda Voth declined to say how Tirrell obtained the patch, citing an ongoing investigation.

Topeka Thief Makes Off with $32K Worth of Jewelry

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man who gained the trust of clerks at a Topeka jewelry store by posing for weeks as a shopper turned out to be a thief. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the owners of Calhoun's Jewelers posted a $1,500 reward on Thursday, one day after the suspect bolted from the store with $32,000 worth of earrings. One pair alone was valued at $12,000. Co-owner Curt Calhoun says the man began visiting the store before the holidays and even came in on New Year's Day. On Wednesday, Calhoun says, a clerk was showing the man several sets of earrings when the suspect scooped them up and ran out. The incident was caught on surveillance video. Authorities hope someone will recognize the man and come forward.

Driver Unhurt in Accident at Kansas Grain Elevator

STAFFORD, Kan. (AP) — A truck driver is unhurt but a central Kansas grain elevator is closed for a few days after an accident that left a tractor-trailer buried in corn. The Pratt Tribune reports the accident happened Wednesday afternoon at the Dillwyn elevator, located along railroad tracks in rural Stafford County. Manager Paul Eisenhour says the semi hit a loading chute on the side of the elevator. The chute was ripped away, allowing the corn inside the elevator to pour out. The driver managed to escape from the cab as the grain engulfed his rig. The Dillwyn elevator is owned by Kanza Coop. It remains closed for cleanup and repairs. Eisenhour expects it to reopen on Monday unless an engineer has to come in to check the structural integrity.


K-State Looks to Future After Fiesta Bowl Loss

Living in the moment served Kansas State well this season. The seventh-ranked Wildcats rose to number 1 in the BCS standings, won the Big 12 title and reached the Fiesta Bowl. But after finishing the season with a loss to number 5-ranked Oregon on Thursday night, Kansas State can finally turn its attention to the future. That means life without quarterback Collin Klein, linebacker Arthur Brown and the rest of a senior class that helped to engineer another massive turnaround in Manhattan. Coach Bill Snyder will have to fill plenty of holes on both sides of the ball, and the Wildcats will surely be picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12 next season. But then again, that's where they were picked to finish this season.

1 Dead, 1 Wounded in Suburban KC Shooting

GLADSTONE, Mo. (AP) — One man is dead, another was shot in the stomach and the suspected gunman was still at large in a Kansas City suburb after an early morning shooting. The Kansas City Star reports police responded to a shooting at a Gladstone apartment complex Friday morning and found a 23-year-old man suffering from several gunshot wounds. He was taken to a hospital where he died. While police were investigating that shooting, they were told about a second gunshot victim in another building. They found an 18-year-old with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was taken to a hospital and was in surgery later Friday. Police say they were looking for the gunman, who was with another man.

Ex-Church Vicar Pleads Innocent to Sex Assault Charges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former church vicar in Topeka pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting two young brothers. Thirty-two-year-old Hugh Denton Cranford, a former vicar at Faith Lutheran Church, will be tried starting May 6 on three charges of aggravated indecent liberties with a child younger than 14. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Cranford, a native of Kingwood, Texas, pleaded not guilty on Thursday. The mother of the two boys, who are now 7 and 9, testified that her husband and Cranford were friends and the family attended Faith Lutheran. She said her sons played with Cranford and he stayed overnight in their home. Cranford, a student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, began his vicarage at Faith Lutheran in July 2011. He was suspended by the seminary in June 2012.


KC Man Sentenced in Barbershop Killing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — One of two suspects in a botched barbershop robbery that left a Kansas City barber dead has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor's office says 22-year-old Georgio White was sentenced Friday to 20 years for second-degree murder, 15 years for attempted robbery and six years for armed criminal action. All of the sentences will run concurrently. White and another man were charged in the fatal shooting of 53-year-old Joe Jackson in November 2011. An off-duty police officer found Jackson dead inside the barbershop where he worked. A witness said White shot himself in the arm when he shot Jackson. Officers followed a trail of blood to a nearby apartment, where they arrested White and 24-year-old David Waters. Waters faces a court hearing January 18.


Salina Woman Sentenced in Young Son's Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ A Salina woman was sentenced to about 13 years in prison for second-degree murder and not intervening to stop her boyfriend from abusing her 14-month-old son before his death. Twenty-one-year-old Brittney Betzold was sentenced Friday for failing to protect her son over several days while bruises on his body got worse. Prosecutors said Clayden Urbanek was beaten between September 26 and October 4, 2011 while he was being watched by Betzold's boyfriend, Antonio M. Brown. They say Betzold never physically abused her son but did nothing to help him and left him in Brown's care while she was at work. The Salina Journal reports that Brown is scheduled to go to trial in February on a charge of first-degree murder.

Toddler Ejected, Fatally Injured in Maize Crash

MAIZE, Kan. (AP) — A 3-year-old boy has died and his 9-month-old sister is hospitalized with serious injuries following a two-vehicle collision in south-central Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports the crash between an oil tanker truck and a minivan driven by the children's mother happened around 12:30 pm Thursday in Maize. Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says both children apparently were riding in car seats. The little boy was still in his car seat when he was thrown from the minivan. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. The sheriff says investigators believe the minivan ran a red light and was hit by the tanker truck, which was carrying very little oil. The minivan was pushed into a utility pole, and the truck tipped onto its side. The children's mother was also injured.

Attorney: Kansas Law on Sperm Donors Outdated

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney who's trying to prevent a Kansas sperm donor from having to pay child support for a girl who was ultimately conceived says a state law dealing with artificial insemination is outdated. Lawyer Ben Swinnen of Topeka noted Thursday that a national group proposed in 2002 that states adopt laws saying no sperm or egg donor is legally the parent of a child conceived through artificial reproduction. Kansas law says a sperm donor is not considered a child's parent if a doctor is involved in the artificial insemination. Swinnen represents 46-year-old Topeka resident William Marotta, who donated sperm to a lesbian couple in 2009. No physician was involved, and the state filed a lawsuit in October to try to force Marotta to pay child support.

5 Governors Speak Out on Lesser Prairie Chicken Designation

DENVER (AP) — Governors of five states that are home to the lesser prairie chicken say they're disappointed the federal government has proposed listing the bird as threatened. However they said they're encouraged that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service isn't proposing listing the lesser prairie chicken as endangered. A final decision on a listing is expected this fall. Some ranchers, wind farms and others have worried that listing the bird as threatened could hurt their operations by leading to more regulations on the bird's habitat. The governors of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas released a statement Thursday saying that conservation efforts by their states, along with commitments from industry leaders and landowners, to address risks to the bird should support a decision not to list the species as threatened.

EPA Gives Kansas Regulatory Pass on 2011 Fires

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal environmental regulators have given Kansas a little more breathing room to comply with air quality regulations. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency granted its request to exclude four days from April 2011 when calculating air quality data that is averaged over three years. In a rare move, the EPA agreed with state regulators that prescribed burnings in the Flint Hills and drifting smoke from wildfires in Texas and Mexico on those four days skewed the data. The decision is important — particularly to Wichita and its surrounding counties — because the EPA could impose more stringent local regulations for non-compliance. That affects such things as the type of gasoline sold to pollution control equipment Kansas industries would have to install.

Report on Nebraska Pipeline Route Goes to Governor

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A state evaluation of TransCanada's route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline through Nebraska has been sent to the governor. The office of Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman said in a news release Friday that he has 30 days to review the more than 2,000 pages before making his decision. His decision will be shared with the U.S. State Department, which has federal jurisdiction because the pipeline begins in Canada. The State Department recommendation will go to President Barack Obama, who has the final say. TransCanada's pipeline is designed to carry tar sands oil from Canada across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The company also has proposed connecting it to the Bakken oil field in Montana and North Dakota.

Kansas Silent Film Fest to HIghlight Classic Stars

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Charlie Chaplin is among the classic movie stars who will be featured during the 17th annual Kansas Silent Film Festival. The free festival takes place February 22 and 23 in White Concert Hall at Washburn University in Topeka.Several short Keystone comedies produced by Max Sennett will be featured. Kansas City film historian Denise Morrison will provide introductions for the films and give an overview of the artists and the era of the silent films. Some films will be shown on 16mm film, while others may be projected digitally, due to the rarity of actual film material. Musical accompaniments will be provided mostly by organists or a five-piece chamber ensemble.

Salina Zoo Adds New Species: Sichuan Takin

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure in Salina is home to a new animal, a Sichuan Takin. Officials at the zoo say the 4½-year-old male takin is the first of its species at any zoo in Kansas. Peter Burvenich, curator at the zoo, says it will be at least two to three years before the zoo considers getting a female takin to start a breeding program. KSAL reports that the animal had been in quarantine for 30 days but is now on public display. Takin are native to Tibet and China. They live in the same bamboo forests as the giant panda and are closely related to goats and sheep, although they are larger.


Police: Rockhurst University Guard Fatally Shoots Man 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City say a university security officer shot and killed a motorist who threatened him and others with a gun. Officers responded Thursday afternoon to a report of an injury accident and shooting on a street beside the campus of Rockhurst University. They found a wounded man in his mid-20s. He died a short time later at a hospital. Witnesses told police the man got out of a car after being involved in a two-vehicle accident and pointed a gun at several people who tried to help him. Police say the man also pointed the gun at the Rockhurst security officer, who then shot the suspect. The suspect's name has not been released. Rockhurst is a Jesuit institution located a few blocks from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Wichita Man Sentenced in Girlfriend's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who stabbed his girlfriend to death in a store parking lot was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison. Forty-year-old Eric Avila was sentenced Thursday for killing 35-year-old Alina Burkman at a south Wichita Kmart. He pleaded no contest in November to second-degree murder and kidnapping in the March 8 death. Wichita police said Avila and Burkman fought after being evicted from a nearby hotel. Police say Avila suffered stab wounds to the chest and abdomen, but the wounds were apparently self-inflicted. The Wichita Eagle reports Avila's attorney said the two loved each other but were both addicted to drugs.


Number 25-Ranked K-State Dives into Start of Big 12 Men's Basketball Play

Kansas State coach Bruce Weber was asked whether he thinks his number 25-ranked Wildcats are ready for the start of Big 12 play, and his answer didn't exactly fill anybody with confidence. "I don't think you know until you get there," he said. Weber has already gone through an up-and-down non-conference slate, getting blown out by Michigan and Gonzaga before upsetting then-number 8 Florida. So perhaps it's no surprise that Weber doesn't know exactly what to expect from Saturday's game against number 22-ranked Oklahoma State. The game could play a big part in how the Big 12 shakes out. The sixth-ranked University of Kansas is the heavy favorite, but the league is wide open after that. Kansas State and Oklahoma State are among a handful of teams hoping to challenge the Jayhawks.


Standoff Prompts Lockdown at KCK Catholic School

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas police were engaged in a standoff with a criminal suspect in an aggravated robbery for several hours, prompting a nearby school to go on lockdown before parents eventually were allowed to pick up their children. Police say they received a report of a burglary around 11 am Friday and later chased a suspect into a home, where he was still holed up at 3 pm. A statement on the school's website said teachers were made aware of the situation but no information was immediately given to the students. Police were helping direct parents to a location where they could pick up their children Friday afternoon.

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


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