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Regional Headlines for Friday, November 9, 2012




UPDATE: Kobach Says Dispute over Kansas Voter Names List 'Not Over' 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says a judge's ruling requiring disclosure isn't the last word on whether Shawnee County election officials must give candidates in a tight Kansas House race a list of voters who cast provisional ballots. Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca Crotty ordered the voter names released Friday just hours after Representative Ann Mah of Topeka filed a lawsuit to gain access to the names. Mah trails her Republican opponent in the 54th House District by 27 votes out of nearly 11,000 cast. She said she wants to contact the voters and help them correct potential problems so their ballots will count. Kobach wouldn't say specifically how he'll respond, but he told The Associated Press that the dispute, in his words, is "not over." 



Democrats: Suit Filed over Kansas House Race in Wichita

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Democratic Party officials say a lawsuit has been filed in Sedgwick County to force officials to give a Democratic legislator who lost a re-election bid the names of voters casting provisional ballots. They said the lawsuit filed Friday by Representative Geraldine Flaharty of Wichita was similar to one filed hours earlier in Shawnee County by Democratic state Representative Ann Mah of Topeka. In Mah's case, District Judge Rebecca Crotty ordered Shawnee County officials to release voter names to Mah and her Republican opponent. Kansas Democratic Party spokesman Dakota Loomis said Flaharty is hoping for a similar order. Flaharty was forced by political redistricting to run against Republican Representative Phil Hermanson of Wichita. He leads the race by 138 votes out of nearly 6,000 cast on Tuesday.


Brownback: No State-Federal Health Care Partnership

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says Kansas will have a federally run health insurance exchange, after he declined to support Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger's application for a state-federal partnership. The Republican governor had said months ago he would wait until after Tuesday's election before moving forward on health care. He announced his decision Thursday after meeting with Praeger, who sought the governor's signature on a letter of support for a state-federal exchange. Brownback's decision illustrates the divide over the federal health care law between the conservative Republican governor and the moderate Republican commissioner. States have until November 16th to inform the federal government if they plan to create their own health insurance exchanges, partner with the federal government or have their exchanges run by federal agencies.


Coalition Rallies for Medicaid Expansion in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Health care advocates in Kansas are calling on Governor Sam Brownback to accept a federal expansion of Medicaid coverage for some low-income and elderly residents. More than 75 people attended a rally Friday at the Statehouse, arguing the expansion would help about 130,000 Kansas residents who lack health insurance. The Affordable Care Act provides for states to expand Medicaid coverage, with the federal government picking up 100 percent of the cost for the first three years. Brownback has opposed the federal health care reforms and has not decided whether Kansas will expand Medicaid coverage. Friday's rally came one day after Brownback said Kansas won't partner with the federal government to establish a health insurance exchange — another feature of the federal health care overhaul.

5 Kansas Lakes Still Covered by Warnings, Advisories for Algae

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Health officials say five Kansas lakes will remain on warning and advisory lists for harmful blooms of toxic algae until sampling resumes next year. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday sampling for blue-green algae typically is done between April 1 and October 31. Health advisories or warnings were issued for 24 lakes this season, with two confirmed cases of human illnesses. A warning remains in place for Logan City Lake in Phillips County, meaning direct contact with the water is prohibited. Advisories discouraging water contact remain in place for Harvey County East Park Lake; Hiawatha Lake in Brown County; McPherson County State Fishing Lake; and Memorial Veterans Lake in Great Bend.


UPDATE: Kansas Superintendents Testify Before Governor's Task Force

The leaders of two Kansas school districts say educators are doing all they can to teach efficiently. Superintendents from Lyons and Concordia told Governor Sam Brownback's School Efficiency Task Force Friday that they have absorbed spending cuts and learned to adapt to a changing environment. That includes changes in student demographics, academic expectations and technology. Brownback created the panel in September to recommend ways for schools to devote more of their state funding to classroom instruction and less to other expenses, such as administration. The task force also will hear the findings of a similar group formed in October by the Kansas Association of School Boards. Brownback expects to receive his group's recommendations by January.


ICE Arrests 16 Illegal Immigrants in Kansas Sweep

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Immigration officials have arrested 16 illegal immigrants during a three-day sweep across Kansas targeting criminals and fugitives. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday the arrests occurred in Wichita and surrounding communities and in Liberal and Dodge City. Fourteen of the immigrants were from Mexico, with one each from Guatemala and El Salvador. The agency says 11 of the men had prior convictions for crimes such as aggravated assault, aggravated battery, identity theft and domestic battery. Three were immigration fugitives who failed to leave the country as ordered. Two had re-entered the U.S. illegally after being previously deported. ICE field office director Ricardo Wong says in a news release that such targeted enforcement operations focus resources on the most egregious offenders. The operation concluded Thursday.


Union Releases Bombardier Contract Offer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials of the Machinists union have released details of a contract offer that could end a monthlong strike at Bombardier Learjet's Wichita aircraft plant. Union spokesman Bob Wood described the offer Friday as a "substantial improvement" over the proposal that prompted October 8 walkout. The union is recommending approval when members vote Saturday. Bombardier Learjet is proposing a five-year contract that keeps wages unchanged in the first year but raises them 1 percent in each of the following years. It also includes a $2,500 signing bonus, and lowers employees' share of health insurance premiums from the amount the company proposed earlier. The Machinists represent about 825 workers at the aircraft plant. Bombardier Learjet declined comment Friday.


Report: Kansas Soybean Harvest Beating Expectations

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report predicts that Kansas farmers will harvest a better soybean crop than previously expected. Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service on Friday forecast the state's soybean crop at 86.3 million bushels. That is up 5 percent from October's estimate, but is still down 15 percent from last year. If the prediction is correct, it would still be the smallest soybean crop in Kansas since 2007. The agency is standing by its earlier forecasts of 382.2 million bushels for the state's corn crop. That would make it a 15 percent smaller crop than last year. Also unchanged is the forecast of 84 million bushels for grain sorghum, down 24 percent from last year. That would be the smallest sorghum crop in Kansas since 1956.

Fewer Pheasant, Quail Expected in Kansas This Season

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Hunters who fan out across Kansas Saturday for the start of quail and pheasant season are likely to find fewer birds. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says two years of drought have reduced the birds' population in most regions. Mike Miller, editor of the agency's magazine, says the southwest corner of the state is expected to have the fewest number of birds. He says the extreme heat and dry conditions reduced nesting and brood habitat for the birds. The Salina Journal reports northwest and north-central Kansas were not as affected by the drought. And Miller says quail numbers have improved slightly in the northern Flint Hills and northeastern Kansas. Miller says hunting brings in an estimated $400 million in revenue to the state each year.

Reminder to Kansas Hunters: Prairie Chickens Require Permit

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — Kansas wildlife officials are reminding hunters they need a new permit to bag prairie chickens this year. Prairie chicken season opens November 17. Until now, Kansas bird hunters who weren't exempt by law only needed a state hunting license to go after the chickens. But this year they'll need a special permit to hunt both lesser and greater prairie chickens. The $2.50 permit is available online or wherever licenses are sold. The Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says that some permit holders will be surveyed after the season to help the agency learn more about prairie chicken hunters, harvest numbers and distribution.

Holcomb Court Clerk Sentenced on Theft Charges

HOLCOMB, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas woman has been sentenced to a year of probation for stealing about $4,500 from the city of Holcomb while she worked as a court clerk. Thirty-seven-year-old Susan Marie Dreiling of Deerfield will have to serve two years in prison if she violates terms of her probation, which includes paying back the money within 60 days. Dreiling was sentenced Thursday for two misdemeanor counts of theft after reaching a plea deal with Finney County prosecutors. She was arrested in September on a charge of felony theft. Finney County Prosecutor Brent Watson says Dreiling took money people had paid to the court for such things as city ordinance offenses. The Garden City Telegram reports that Dreiling was accused of stealing $4,500 from December 2011 to July 31.

Topeka Man Convicted of Attack at TV Station

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 49-year-old Topeka man has been convicted of attacking employees at a TV station after he was told it would not report a story he wanted covered. Ray Anthony Miles was found guilty Thursday of multiple charges stemming from the May 23rd incident at the offices of WIBW-TV. Miles went to the station to request coverage of a problem he was having with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He left the building, but then forced his way into the locked lobby and shoved the news director before being subdued by other employees. The employees were punched, kicked and stabbed before they managed to take a knife away from their attacker. Miles was arrested the same day and has remained in jail since then.

Missouri Water Company Cited in Wake of Worker's Death

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri utility has been cited for two willful safety violations after a Kansas man was killed earlier this year by a chain saw that kicked back and cut him. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday announced the citation and proposed penalties of $140,000 against Missouri-American Water Company. The case involves the May 16th death of 40-year-old Robert Clark of Baxter Springs, who was helping reroute underground water lines as part of Joplin, Missouri's rebuilding effort. OSHA cited Missouri-American for failing to provide support in accordance with manufacturers' instructions and lack of training on pipe-cutting operations. Mid-American president Frank Kartmann says the company does not agree with the contents of the citation and plans to meet with OSHA to discuss the matter.

Urban League of Kansas President Resigns

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Urban League of Kansas says its president and chief executive officer has resigned. The nonprofit group announced Thursday that Chester Daniel resigned October 26 to pursue other opportunities. The organization, which provides education and counseling programs to help improve economic self-reliance, said in a news release that it will hire an interim president at its November 15 meeting. The Wichita Eagle reports that Daniel became president of the Wichita-based agency in March 2008. Linda Merrill-Parman, former chairwoman of the league's board of trustees, said it's not known yet when the search for Daniel's permanent replacement will begin. She also says other options for leading the group could be considered.

BBB Plans Merger for Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Better Business Bureau that serves Nebraska, South Dakota and southwest Iowa has announced a merger with The Kansas Plains Better Business Bureau that serves most of Kansas. The new combined territory will contain nearly 10,000 accredited businesses. Jim Hegarty is president of the bureau based in Omaha says that the merger will let each bureau "build on each other's strengths, combine resources and initiate new programs to meet the needs of today's businesses and consumers." The bureaus expect the merger to be completed in the next few months. The merged bureau will have its headquarters in Omaha, with branch offices in Wichita; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

New Zealander to Speak at Veterans Day Ceremony

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A military officer from New Zealand will be the keynote speaker for Sunday's Veterans Day ceremony at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City. Major Terry McDonald serves with the Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers. He's currently attending the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and has earned commendations for service in Afghanistan and Sudan. Sunday's observance begins at 10 am in the J.C. Nichols Auditorium inside the museum, which is topped by the Liberty Memorial. It is scheduled to conclude at 11 am — the hour at which the armistice that ended World War I took effect. Visitors will be able to tour the museum free of charge after the ceremony until 5 pm.


2nd Family Forgery Victim Found in Missouri Murder Case

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas City lawyer accused of causing her father's death by falsifying his signature to have him removed from life support has a family history of criminal fraud. Susan Elizabeth Van Note is charged with killing her father, William Van Note, in 2010. He died after being shot along with his girlfriend at the couple's Lake of the Ozarks home. The woman also died. Court records in Johnson County, Kan., show seven years before William Van Note's death, Susan Van Note's mother, Barbara, was convicted of stealing more than $100,000 from her mother by forging a financial power of attorney document. However, details in that case are scarce. Shortly after Susan Van Note's September arrest, her mother had the 2005 conviction expunged and the records were permanently sealed.


Number 3 K-State Highest-Ranked Team to Play at TCU Since '70

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Texas Christian University and coach Gary Patterson are finding out just how difficult a Big 12 schedule is. Even so, the Horned Frogs (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) have already obtained bowl eligibility in their first season in a BCS league. The Frogs are home Saturday night against third-ranked Kansas State, Patterson's alma mater and where he started his coaching career. He was a graduate assistant for the 1982 Wildcats team that was the first in school history to go to a bowl. Led by Heisman Trophy front-running quarterback Collin Klein, the Wildcats (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) are in the thick of the national championship chase. They are the highest AP-ranked team to visit Fort Worth since 1970. After K-State, TCU still has to play 19th-ranked Texas and number 14-ranked Oklahoma.

No. 25 Texas Tech Looks to End Skid vs. KU

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — University of Kansas coach Charlie Weis is tweaking a couple of routines heading into the Jayhawks' game against number 25-ranked Texas Tech this weekend. It couldn't hurt to try something different. The Jayhawks have just one win overall this season, so Weis is taking the team to Lubbock earlier and holding practice where they will play the Red Raiders on Saturday. KU also is looking to break an 18-game Big 12 losing streak. The Jayhawks are coming off a 41-14 loss at Baylor, while Texas Tech fell 31-22 to the University of Texas last week. After five-straight losses to close last season, Texas Tech doesn't want this year's two-game skid extended, which would lower its bowl prospects. The Saturday game pits KU (1-8, 0-6) and its rush offense against the pass-heavy offense of Texas Tech (6-3, 3-3).

Kansas Officials Told Not to Release Voter Names for Provisional Ballot Inquiry

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office is telling county officials they shouldn't release names of voters casting provisional ballots. The advice from Kobach's office Thursday came as Democratic Representative Ann Mah of Topeka is seeking a list of such voters so that she can contact them before their ballots are reviewed. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the memo from Kobach's office from a county clerk who received it. Mah is a vocal critic of the Republican secretary of state. She trailed her GOP challenger from Tuesday's election by 27 votes out of nearly 11,000 cast. She said she wants to help voters correct problems affecting their ballots, so their votes will count. In the memo, Kobach's office said releasing voter names would violate federal law.

**this story has been updated. Please scroll to the top of the list of regional headlines for the latest information.


Kansas House Democrat Sues to Obtain Voter Names

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House Democrat has filed a lawsuit hoping to force Shawnee County officials to turn over a list of voters who cast provisional ballots. Representative Ann Mah of Topeka is trying to avert a narrow election loss. Democratic Party officials gave The Associated Press a copy of Mah's petition before it was filed in Shawnee County District Court on Friday. Mah trails Republican challenger Ken Corbet of Topeka by 27 votes out of almost 11,000 cast. She says she wants to ensure that all provisional votes are counted, and says that around 150 votes are in play. Secretary of State Kris Kobach has advised voting officials against releasing voters' names, suggesting it would violate state and federal law. Kobach is a Republican. Mah is perhaps his most vocal legislative critic.

**this story has been updated. Please scroll to the top of the list of regional headlines for the latest information.


Kansas Judge Orders Voter Names Released

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has ordered Shawnee County officials to give a Democratic legislator and her Republican opponent a list of voters who cast provisional ballots in this week's election. District Judge Judge Rebecca Crotty ruled Friday, hours after Rep. Ann Mah of Topeka filed a lawsuit to force the county to turn over the names. Mah trails GOP challenger Ken Corbet of Topeka by only 27 votes out of almost 11,000 cast. She said she wants to help voters correct potential problems so their ballots are counted. Mah's lawsuit came a day after Secretary of State Kris Kobach advised county election officials across the state that releasing the voter names would violate state and federal law. Kobach is a Republican. Mah is one of his most vocal critics.

**this story has been updated. Please see top of regional headlines list. 

Kansas School Efficiency Task Force to Meet

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The heads of two Kansas school districts are among the officials scheduled to appear at the second meeting of Governor Sam Brownback's School Efficiency Task Force. Brownback created the panel in September to recommend ways for schools to devote more of their state funding to classroom instruction and less to other expenses, such as administration. The task force is meeting Friday at the Statehouse. The superintendents of the Lyons and Concordia districts are scheduled to appear, along with the directors of two educational service centers. Also scheduled to speak are members of a similar study group created in October by the Kansas Association of School Boards. The association formed its task force because the governor's panel includes several accountants but no educators. Brownback expects to receive his group's recommendations by January.

**this story has been updated. Please scroll further up in the list of regional headlines for the latest information.


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