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Regional Headlines for Friday, May 10, 2013



UPDATE: 2 Kansas Prison Escapees in Custody in Missouri

EDGERTON, MO. (AP) — Two of three inmates who walked away from a northeast Kansas prison are in custody in northwest Missouri. The Platte County Sheriff's Office says the men emerged from a rural home late Friday afternoon after hours of negotiations. Captain Erik Holland says 31-year-old Allen M. Hurst and 49-year-old Scott A. Gilbert walked out from under a back deck and surrendered without incident. The pair had holed up in the house Friday morning, sometime after escaping Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas early Friday. The whereabouts of the third escaped inmate, 57-year-old Randy A. Ridens Sr., remain unknown.


UPDATE: Man Charged in Deaths of Woman, Her Toddler, 2 Men

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — A criminal complaint says a 27-year-old man arrested earlier this week has been charged in the deaths of a woman and two men whose bodies were found at a rural eastern Kansas farm home. Kyle Flack also is charged in the death of the woman's young daughter, whose body hasn't been found. Authorities say they presume 18-month-old Lana Leigh Bailey is dead. The complaint released Friday says Flack is charged with capital murder in the deaths of 21-year-old Kaylie Bailey, Lana Bailey and 30-year-old Andrew Stout. He also faces multiple counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of those three as well as 31-year-old Steven White. The bodies of Kaylie Bailey, Stout and White were found earlier this week on an Ottawa-area farm. Bailey and her daughter disappeared last week.

Search for Missing Kansas Toddler Continues

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — Crews on foot, horseback and all-terrain vehicles resumed their search for an 18-month-old girl who is presumed dead after the bodies of her mother and two men were found at an eastern Kansas farm. Authorities looking for toddler Lana Bailey's remains returned to an area on Friday west of Ottawa where the other bodies were found. 


Kansas AG Defends Not Releasing Tobacco Funds Report

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas attorney general's office says it will release information about the state's share of tobacco settlement funds in a timely manner if it can do so legally. Spokesman Don Brown said Friday that Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office still is determining whether it can release an accounting firm's report on revisions to a 1998 legal settlement between states and tobacco companies. Kansas Action for Children filed a petition Friday in Shawnee County District Court to force Schmidt's office to release the report. The group says it wants to know much the state can expect to receive in tobacco settlement funds in coming years. Schmidt announced last month that Kansas received nearly $68 million in tobacco settlement funds for the current fiscal year, almost $13 million more than expected.


Kansas Legislators Tout Suspended License Changes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Legislators are touting changes made to Kansas driver's license laws that they say will help poorer residents drive in limited situations while their licenses are suspended. The measure allows residents with suspended licenses to apply for a restricted permit to drive to work, school or other limited locations while they pay off traffic fines. The Wichita Eagle reports that the law was on the books four years ago and lawmakers initially didn't notice when a sunset provision took effect in 2012. They took action this session to restore the law. Two interns with Kansas Legal Services said during a ceremonial bill signing Thursday that the lapse in the law made it difficult for the working poor to stay employed so they could pay their traffic ticket fines.


Kansas Lawmakers Want to Block Sale of Parking Lot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A committee in the Kansas Legislature is trying to prevent the sale of a parking lot for government workers near the Statehouse. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Legislature's Joint Committee on State Building Construction voted Thursday to ask the Department of Administration to reject all bids for the lot. The highest bid was $2.5 million. Some committee members said the department failed to follow the proper procedure for selling the lot because it didn't consult the committee, legislative leaders or a state Capitol-area planning group before seeking bids. But interim Administration Secretary Mark McGivern said the state owns "an abundance of parking" in the area. McGivern also says decisions about surplus property do take into account the needs of state workers.


Veteran SE Kansas House Democrat Retiring

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A veteran southeast Kansas Democrat is announcing that he will retire from office at the end of the 2013 session. Bob Grant, a 64-year-old from Frontenac, told colleagues on Friday that he would be stepping down to spend more time with his family. Grant is known for his colorful language and casual dress, rarely wearing a tie or dress shirt under his coat during legislative session. He sported a black tuxedo and gray vest as he made his intentions known. He was first appointed to the House in 1991, the last time Democrats held a majority in either legislative chamber. He lost election in 1994 but returned in 1996. Grant said he has talked to people about filling his unexpired term.


Kansas Representative Proposes to Girlfriend on House Chamber Floor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Representative Phil Hermanson invited his girlfriend to the Kansas House on the pretext of helping honor a student from the Wichita area. Turns out the honor was all his. There was no student, but Hermanson dropped to one knee in the House chamber on Friday and proposed to Rhonda Riggs. Riggs accepted, much to the approval of the Wichita Republican's colleagues. Riggs and Hermanson have known each other since grade school in Goddard and dated for a while in college. They rekindled their romance in March of this year while following the Wichita State Shockers' run to the semifinals of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Riggs is a contract executive with a Wichita landscaping company. She said the couple planned to get married in early 2014.

Kansas Oil Production Increases in 2012; Natural Gas Declines

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Data from the Kansas Geological Survey show oil production in Kansas last year was up over 2011, but natural gas production was down. Officials with the survey, based at the University of Kansas, report the 43.7 million barrels of oil produced last year were the most since 1995. The oil had a value of $3.7 billion. The survey also reported that Kansas natural gas production declined from 312 billion cubic feet in 2011 to slightly less than 300 billion cubic feet last year, a drop of 4 percent. The value of the gas declined 34 percent last year to about $790 million. Ellis County was the state's largest oil producer with 3.6 million barrels in 2012. Stevens County produced the most natural gas, with 40 billion cubic feet.

Kansas National Guard Marks Tank Engine Milestone

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas National Guard officials are marking a milestone for a unit that rebuilds tank engines for the U.S. military and foreign customers. The Advanced Turbine Engine Army Maintenance unit, known as the ATEAM, held a ceremony Thursday to celebrate completion of the 1,000th tank engine rebuilt at the unit's Fort Riley facilities. The program began 14 years ago and is responsible for rebuilding turbine engines used in the Army's main battle tank. Other customers of the unit include Saudi Arabia. Major General Lee Tafanelli said the ATEAM has saved taxpayers millions by rebuilding the engines each year instead of having them replaced at a higher cost. The unit employs 120 Army and Kansas National Guard soldiers with a payroll of $8.3 million.


Salina Police Expect More Arrests in Woman's Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina police say they expect to make more arrests in the death of a 27-year-old woman whose body was found this week after she had been missing since April 25. Officers arrested a 24-year-old Salina man Wednesday on suspicion of premeditated first-degree murder in the death of Kristin Tyler. Salina police Lieutenant Scott Siemsen said Friday the investigation is not over and more arrests are likely. Tyler's body was found Thursday in a ravine off Interstate 135 near Salina. Siemsen says Tyler might have been killed near where her body was found. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Salina police and the Saline County Sheriff's Office are investigating the case. Tyler's mother reported her missing after her daughter did not return home from running errands on the evening of April 25.


Man Won't Get New Trial for Kansas Student's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of a man serving life in prison with no chance of parole for the murder of an El Dorado teenager who led a secret life as an Internet porn model. The justices unanimously rejected an appeal for a new trial from Israel G. Mireles. Mireles was convicted of rape and capital murder in the November 2007 stabbing and strangulation of Emily Sander. The 18-year-old Butler County Community College student was killed in an El Dorado motel room that Mireles had been renting while working in the south-central Kansas community. It was later revealed that Sander also was known on the Internet as model Zoey Zane. The court rejected Mireles's claim that grisly autopsy photos shouldn't have been admitted as evidence.


Report: US Winter Wheat Production Forecast Down

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Agriculture Department has forecast U.S. farmers will harvest a far smaller winter wheat crop this season than a year ago, particularly for the hard red varieties used to bake bread. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday that winter wheat production is forecast to be down 10 percent to 1.49 billion bushels amid fewer acres and poorer yields. Production of hard red winter wheat production is down by 23 percent nationwide to 768 million bushels. Kansas, the nation's biggest wheat producer, mostly raises hard red winter wheat. The state is forecast to harvest 299.7 million bushels. That is down from the 382.2 million bushels cut last year. It is also below the forecast of 313 million bushels estimated by participants in the Kansas wheat quality tour earlier this month.


USDA: Despite Late Start, Record Corn Crop Likely

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The wet start to the corn planting season may reduce the amount each acre produces this year, but farmers are planting so much corn they're still likely to bring in a record crop. In a report released Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated farmers would bring in 14.1 billion bushels of corn this year, a billion bushels more than the previous record set in 2009. The USDA expects farmers to grow an average of 158 bushels per acre, a 3.4 percent reduction from the 163.6 bushels predicted in February. The downward adjustment is due to delayed planting caused by a cold, wet spring. Farmers are planting more than 97 million acres of corn, the most since 1936. That's why even an average yield would result in a record crop.

Trial Set for Kansas Store Owner over Counterfeit Goods

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has set a trial date for a Kansas store owner accused of selling phony luxury goods imported from China. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren on Thursday scheduled the trial of 54-year-old Glenda Sue Morgan for July 2 in federal court in Wichita. A three-count indictment handed down last month charges Morgan and her Wichita shop, The Fabulous Store LLC, with conspiracy and trafficking in counterfeit goods. Prosecutors allege Morgan sold handbags, wallets, sunglasses and jewelry bearing trademark designs and brand names but not made by those companies. The luxury-name goods included Prada, Coach and Chanel, among others. Prosecutors say a search warrant executed last month turned up about 400 counterfeit items that, if authentic, would have been valued at $130,000.

Johnson County Community College Names President

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Johnson County Community College has promoted one of its administrators to president of the college. The college's trustees on Thursday named Joseph M. Sopcich the school's fifth president His is currently the college's executive vice president of administrative services. The 58-year-old Sopcich will assume the presidency this summer. He will replace President Terry Calaway, who resigned after serving as president since June 2007. The Kansas City Star reports that Sopcich signed a three-year contract with a total compensation package of $317,900 a year. His base salary will be $240,000.

Cowley College Hires Oregon Man as New President

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An administrator at an Oregon community college will be the new president of Cowley College in Arkansas City. The college's board voted Thursday to hire Clark Williams to lead the college. He will replace Patrick McAttee, who retired at the end of 2012 after serving as Cowley's president for 25 years. The Arkansas City Traveler reports that Williams currently is the vice president and chief operating officer for Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon. Williams will begin his new job on July 8.


KS Abortion Protester Sues Wyoming Town over 2011 Arrest

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — An anti-abortion protester has sued the town of Jackson, Wyoming, saying it violated his rights when police arrested him as he was preaching on the town square in 2011. Mark Holick, a pastor with Kansas-based Spirit One Christian Center, filed suit in federal court in Cheyenne against the town and two town police officers on Thursday. Holick and Spirit One are seeking damages,  alleging that the arrest violated their civil rights. The town of Jackson had secured a state court order barring anti-abortion protesters from appearing on the town square in 2011. The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled last year that the order violated the rights of protesters, who weren't alerted in advance that the town had requested it. The protesters had targeted Jackson because a doctor there has acknowledged performing abortions.


Brownback Chief of Staff Says Last NBAF Cost Estimates 'Solid'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's chief of staff says the latest cost estimates for a new, national biosecurity lab and commitments from federal officials about its funding are "pretty solid." Landon Fulmer sought to assure Democrats in the Kansas Senate on Thursday that the state is unlikely to face committing more funding for the project if it issues an additional $202 million in bonds. Fulmer said federal officials don't intend to ask Kansas for further commitments. Some legislators have misgivings about more bonds even though they support the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility at Kansas State University. The $1.15 billion lab will research dangerous animal diseases. The state already has authorized $105 million in bonds, but costs have escalated. President Barack Obama's latest proposed budget includes $714 million for the project.

Kansas House Panel Advances Plan to Fund Stem Cell Research Center

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has approved a proposal to spend $1.2 million to fund a new research center for potential medical cures with adult stem cells. The Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to direct House budget negotiators to push for the spending. Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill last month creating the new center at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. The law prohibits the new center from using money or resources on research with embryonic stem cells. Instead, the aim is to make Kansas a leader in research with adult stem cells. Three senators and three House members are negotiating the final version of a $14.5 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.


Kansas Woman Struck, Killed by Freight Train

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of a pedestrian who was hit by a freight train in east-central Kansas. The Emporia Gazette reports police on Thursday identified the woman as 28-year-old Haylee Frazier, of Emporia. BNSF Railway says the accident happened shortly before midnight Wednesday. Frazier was found near the tracks and pronounced dead at the scene. BNSF spokesman Andy Williams says the westbound train had three locomotives and 49 cars. He adds that the accident did not happen at a crossing. It's not clear why Frazier was near the tracks. Williams says the speed limit through Emporia is 40 mph and the train was not speeding at the time.

Kansas Doctor Denied Bail on Federal Drug Charges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas doctor accused of illegally distributing prescription drugs will remain in federal custody for now. Fifty-three-year-old Michael Schuster was indicted May 1 on multiple counts alleging he operated a pill mill from his clinic in Manhattan. U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Sebelius on Thursday denied Schuster's request to set bail, calling him a flight risk. Sebelius said Schuster and his wife had misled authorities about their assets and the whereabouts of their passports after the charges were filed. Schuster pleaded not guilty earlier this week to charges alleging he engaged in a scheme to unlawfully distribute controlled substances from April 2007 until at least August 2012. He's accused of directing and allowing staff members to dispense controlled substances in his absence, using blank, signed prescription pads he left behind when he traveled.

Wichita Man Sentenced in Beating Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A homeless man has been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for beating another homeless man to death over cigarettes. Forty-one-year-old Patrick R. Perkins was sentenced Thursday for involuntary manslaughter and robbery in the death of 41-year-old Marshall K. Hauschulz. Police say the beating occurred as Perkins was robbing Hauschulz of cigarettes in December 2011. The Wichita Eagle reports state prison records show Perkins was paroled from prison six weeks before he killed Hauschulz. He had served time for a Reno County aggravated battery conviction and also had a 1994 Saline County conviction for aggravated robbery.


Three Minimum Security Inmates Escape Lansing Prison

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement officials are looking for three inmates who walked away from the Lansing Correctional Facility. The inmates escaped early Friday from minimum security. Further details of their escape were not immediately available. The inmates are 31-year-old Allen M. Hurst and 49-year-old Scott A. Gilbert, who both were convicted in Sedgwick County in 2010 of multiple counts of burglary and theft; and 57-year-old Randy A. Ridens Sr., who was convicted in Shawnee and Douglas counties in 2010 of several burglary counts and one count of theft. Corrections officials say all escaped inmates should be considered armed and dangerous.

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


Three Escaped Kansas Inmates Holed Up in Missouri Home

EDGERTON, MO. (AP) — Three inmates who walked away from a Kansas prison are holed up in a northwest Missouri home. Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay says the inmates escaped early Friday from the minimum security unit at the Lansing Correctional Facility. He says they ran into a home in Platte County, Missouri, on Friday. No shots have been fired. Area TV broadcasts show lines of police cars surrounding the home in a rural area near Edgerton. The escaped inmates are 31-year-old Allen M. Hurst, 49-year-old Scott A. Gilbert and 57-year-old Randy A. Ridens Sr. They were in prison for burglary and theft convictions. North Platte R-1 School District Superintendent Jeff Sumy says the district was asked to keep students inside at an Edgerton school.

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


Police: 2 Men in Missouri Home Likely Escaped KS Inmates

EDGERTON, MO. (AP) — Authorities say they believe two armed men holed up in a northwest Missouri home escaped from a Kansas prison Friday. Platte County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant Erik Holland says officers began chasing the suspects in Platte City, Missouri. Holland says shots were fired at officers as the men fled in a stolen car and the men bailed at a home near Edgerton. Three inmates walked away from a minimum-security unit at the Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas. Authorities believe the men in the Missouri house are two of the inmates. It's unclear where the third inmate is. Authorities say the homeowners said there were firearms inside. The Kansas Department of Corrections has identified the escaped inmates as 31-year-old Allen M. Hurst, 49-year-old Scott A. Gilbert and 57-year-old Randy A. Ridens Sr.

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


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