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Regional Headlines for Friday, October 19, 2012



Appeals Court Revives Kansas School Funding Case

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — An appeals court has revived a school finance lawsuit filed by some northeast Kansas parents. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Thursday reversed a lower court dismissal of a lawsuit filed by parents in the Shawnee Mission School District. The parents want a judge to lift a state cap on local option school budgets so district patrons can raise their taxes to support local schools. U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum dismissed the lawsuit in March 2011. He agreed with state officials, who argued that ending the cap on local option taxes would cause the state's school funding system to collapse. The Kansas City Star reports the appellate court ruled the court must hear the case to determine if the cap is constitutional.

Kansas Democratic Leader Knocks Brownback School Waste Tipster Effort

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A leading Kansas Democrat is criticizing efforts by Republican Governor Sam Brownback to solicit anonymous tips about inefficient use by schools of their state funding. House Minority Leader Paul Davis says a new website where people can offer tips and suggestions amounts to an online forum for criticizing schools. A task force on school efficiency appointed by Brownback launched the website this week. Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said the governor wants to make Kansas a leader in education and get more dollars into instruction. Davis says the state should instead discuss innovative ways that schools have done more with less because of past reductions in base state aid. Davis also said the state should celebrate schools by restoring some of the lost aid.


Kansas Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.9 Percent in September

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says the Kansas jobless rate dropped below 6 percent in September for the first time in almost four years. The state Labor Department said Thursday that seasonally adjusted unemployment fell last month to 5.9 percent from 6.2 percent in August. It was also down from 6.7 percent in September 2011. Kansas last had a jobless rate below 6 percent in December 2008. The department also said Kansas continues to see modest growth in private, non-farm employment. The state had nearly 1.1 million such jobs last month, an increase of 1.2 percent from September 2011.

Boy Scout 'Perversion Files' Contain 14 Kansas Cases

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Confidential files kept for years by Boy Scouts of America detailing allegations of sexual abuse against boys include 14 cases from Kansas. Six of the 14 cases detailed in files released Thursday were from troops in Wichita. Other cases were from Olathe, Arkansas City, Manhattan, Newton, Kansas City, Hoisington and two from Leavenworth. The Boy Scouts released about 14,500 pages of what are being called "perversion files" on cases across the country dating from 1959 to 1985. A Portland law firm that made the files available stressed that simply because a case is on the list does not mean the allegations are true. Some of the national cases resulted in court sentences but others have not been substantiated or were dropped.The files also included 46 cases from Missouri, mostly in and around St. Louis and kansas City. 

Life Sentences in 1993 Topeka Death Upheld

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court upheld two life sentences for a man convicted in 1993 execution-style slaying in Topeka. The court on Friday rejected Jason Wade Schaeffer's argument that the Shawnee County judge who sentenced him was biased against him. Schaeffer and Joshua Kaiser were convicted in 1994 of killing 33-year-old Timothy Riley, who was abducted from his home, forced into a car trunk and driven around before Schaeffer eventually shot him in the head. While sentencing Schaeffer, Judge Thomas Conklin, among other things, called Schaeffer "grossly wicked" and said he wished he could impose a longer sentence. The court called Conklin's statements excessive and ill-advised but said they were not enough to set aside Schaeffer's sentences. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a different judge gave Kaiser two life sentences.


Kansas Inmate Granted Hearing on DNA Testing

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has given a man convicted in a 1982 rape and murder the chance to argue for new DNA testing. The Salina Journal reports the high court ruled Friday in favor of Robert H. Lackey. The court ordered a hearing on his DNA testing request in Saline County District Court, which had earlier turned him down. Lackey was convicted in 2002 of first-degree murder and rape in the death of Sara Ann Brecheisen, a 22-year-old college student from Salina. Brecheisen was a volunteer in 1982 at the Gospel Mission, a men's homeless shelter now known as the Salina Rescue Mission. Lackey lived at the shelter and worked there as a cook, going by the name Bob Moore.

TransCanada Temporarily Shuts Keystone Pipeline

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal agency says TransCanada Corporation has temporarily shut down its existing Keystone pipeline after tests showed "possible safety issues." The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration says TransCanada reported shutting down the approximately 2,100-mile pipeline, which moves about 500,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta, Canada, to facilities in Illinois and Oklahoma. The pipeline passes through Kansas en route to Cushing, Oklahoma. Jeannie Layson, spokeswoman for PHMSA, says the possible safety issues were found on part of the pipeline that extends between Missouri and Illinois. Layson says in an email that an agency inspector has been sent to review the test results, observe repairs and follow any necessary safety activities. She says TransCanada hasn't reported any leaks on the system. TransCanada spokesman Grady Semmens says the pipeline was shut down Wednesday and is expected to resume operations Saturday.

Interstate in North Oklahoma Reopens Following Dust Storm

BLACKWELL, Okla. (AP) — Transportation officials say a stretch of Interstate 35 in northern Oklahoma is open again after a massive dust storm triggered a multi-vehicle accident. Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokesman Cole Hackett said the 8-mile stretch of Interstate 35 reopened Thursday evening. Transportation workers had been called in earlier Thursday to close the highway between U.S. 60 and Oklahoma 11. The area just south of the Kansas state line remained closed for several hours as crews cleared debris from the crash and waited for winds to die down. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said visibility was less than 10 feet as gusts as high as 55 mph blew dust over the roadway Thursday afternoon. No one was killed in the multi-vehicle accident, though Blackwell, Oklahoma Police Chief Fred LeValley said nine people were injured.

Kansas Girl Files Lawsuit to Force CO2 Restrictions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 14-year-old northeast Kansas girl has sued Governor Sam Brownback's administration in hopes of forcing it to impose limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Samantha Farb of Lecompton filed the lawsuit Thursday through her parents in Shawnee County District Court. It's part of a campaign launched last year by environmentalists to file such lawsuits in all 50 states. The effort is led by a nonprofit Oregon group called Our Children's Trust. The Kansas girl's lawsuit argues there's a public trust for the state in protecting the atmosphere and fighting global warming from manmade greenhouse gases such as CO2. Named as defendants are Brownback, the state Department of Health and Environment and the agency's secretary. A KDHE spokeswoman said the agency has not seen the lawsuit.


Olathe Man Convicted in Caregiver's Death

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe man has been found guilty of killing his wife's live-in caretaker. Sixty-year-old Stephen M. Collier was convicted Friday of second-degree murder in the December killing of 54-year-old Susanne Goslin. Goslin cared for Molly Collier, who suffered from several health issues. The Kansas City Star reports Collier testified that Goslin was holding a gun to her head and it went off when he tried to take the weapon from her. But a doctor who conducted the autopsy testified that he did not find powder residue that should have been on Goslin if she had shot herself.

Economic Index Jumps for Midwest, Western States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An index of economic conditions in 10 Midwest and Western states jumped this month after three months of drought-induced doldrums. The Rural Mainstreet survey of rural bankers rose to 56.6 for October from 48.3 in September. It was the first time since June that the index rose above a growth-neutral measurement of 50. Survey organizers say any score above 50 on the 100-point scale suggests the economy will grow in the months ahead. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the effects of the drought are being more than offset by high incomes from high agriculture and energy prices. The survey covers Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Presidential Libraries Team Up with Ike and Harry Program

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — Two experts on Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman will speak next week in Kansas about the paths the two Midwesterners took to the White House and their legacies as president. Tim Rives is deputy director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene. Sam Rushay is the supervisory archivist at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. They'll speak Tuesday night at the Eisenhower Library about the lives and times and legacies of the two presidents. Truman, a Democrat, was president in the final months of World War II while Eisenhower was serving as Allied commander in Europe. Truman was elected to a full term in 1948. Eisenhower, a Republican, defeated Adlai Stevenson in 1952 to win the first of his two terms as president.


Driver Distracted by Balloons Hits Topeka Hotel

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A young Topeka driver distracted by balloons lost control of her vehicle and crashed into a hotel, narrowly missing a woman inside one of the hotel's rooms. Topeka police say the helium balloons inside the car were obstructing 17-year-old Kelli Young's vision while she drove Thursday night. When she tried to push them out of the way, her SUV crashed through a perimeter fence, a fire hydrant and hit two vehicles in the parking lot of the Value Place hotel. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Young's vehicle eventually ended up halfway into hotel room. Twenty-eight-year-old Michelle Williams of El Dorado was staying in the room. She says the vehicle stopped about 3 inches from her. No one was injured. Charges have not been filed.

Kansas Man Found Not Guilty of Molesting Young Boy

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 31-year-old Lawrence man has been found not guilty of sexually abusing the 5-year-old son of a woman with whom he was living. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a Douglas County jury acquitted the man Thursday of aggravated criminal sodomy. He could have faced up to life in prison if convicted. A prosecution witness testified the boy's DNA was found on the man's genitals, which were swabbed by police shortly after the alleged incident in April. But the man told police the boy had touched him while he was using a toilet next to a tub where the boy was taking a bath. The man isn't being named because he was not convicted.


Father Arrested After Chase with 5 Kids in SUV

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a 35-year-old man who led officers on a short chase had his five young children in his vehicle, none of them in safety restraints. The Wichita Eagle reports that the man was booked into jail Thursday night on suspicion of several offenses, including child endangerment. Police said the man was wanted on warrants over child support and was driving with a suspended license. Police Lieutenant Doug Nolte says the incident began when officers spotted an SUV with dark tinted windows that was going too fast. Police said the driver ran several stop signs during the chase, then stopped in a store parking lot. Nolte says officers heard children screaming inside. Relatives were called to pick up the children, who were 3 to 10 years old.


Planners Consider Site for All-in-One KCI Terminal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials considering transforming Kansas City International Airport are reaching consensus on the best place to locate an all-in-one terminal to replace the current three terminals. On Thursday, Aviation Director Mark VanLoh updated City Council members on months of studies and planning. The Kansas City Star reported that the preferred choice is to build a new terminal where the current Terminal A is located. He says a potential site just south of the existing airport is too expensive to be a viable option. Many passengers praise the current design for its convenience. But critics say the three-terminal layout creates security challenges. The final recommendation isn't expected until January. Even then, the Federal Aviation Administration and the City Council would need to sign off on it.


Farmers Planted Most of Land Flooded in 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says farmers this spring were able to plant all but a few thousand acres of the land that was deluged by last year's flooding along on the Missouri River. When farmers can't plant their crops because of flooding or other weather conditions, they're able to collect "prevented planting" payments through their insurance. USDA numbers show that farmers received the payments for only about 4,900 acres of unplanted Missouri River cropland in about 20 counties in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. The Missouri River basin land was flooded after record runoff forced massive releases of water from upstream reservoirs. The USDA data also shows farmers planted most of the land inundated after the intentional breaching of the Birds Point levee in southeast Missouri.


Missouri Man Pleads Guilty to Endangering Child

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 35-year-old Kansas City man has pleaded guilty to endangering his girlfriend's malnourished 10-year-old daughter, who was kept in an apartment closet. Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says Marcus Benson will spend five years on probation and has agreed to spend seven years in prison if he violates terms that sentence. As part of the plea deal, a second count of child endangerment was dropped. Authorities responding to a child abuse hotline call June 22 found the 32-pound girl barricaded inside a closet that reeked of urine. Neighbors say the girls 2- and 8-year-old half-sisters were well cared for, but they didn't know about the 10-year-old. The victim's mother is scheduled for trial in June on assault, child abuse and child endangerment charges.

Plan to Sell Plum Island Questioned in New York, Connecticut

GREENPORT, N.Y. (AP) — Environmentalists in New York are joining colleagues in Connecticut in questioning the proposed sale of Plum Island, the site of the country's only laboratory that studies infectious animal diseases. The federal government plans to sell the 840-acre island off the eastern tip of Long Island and move research operations to a $1.14 billion laboratory in Kansas. Elected officials on both sides of Long Island Sound have cited federal studies that question the wisdom of placing a lab that would study foot-and-mouth disease in the heart of the nation's so-called Beef Belt. Thursday night's public hearing, as well as one held Wednesday in Connecticut, did not address the issue of moving the lab. Instead, it focused on a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed sale of the island. Environmentalists say their preference is that if the island is sold it be kept as a nature preserve.


Kahne Takes Top Qualifying Spot for Cup Race at Kansas Speedway

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — NASCAR Championship contender Kasey Kahne shattered the track record at a repaved Kansas Speedway on Friday, turning a lap of 191.360 mph to take the pole for Sunday's race. Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer were next fastest. All 43 cars in the field broke the previous record of 180.856 mph, set by Matt Kenseth in 2005. Bowyer, a Kansas native, is coming off a win last week at Charlotte that put him back in the championship picture. He trails leader Brad Keselowski by 28 points. Keselowski will start 25th after a disappointing qualifying run. Of the drivers participating in the Chase, only three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart logged a worse qualifying time. He'll start in 33rd position. Regan Smith qualified 40th in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car.


Hamlin: '100 Percent and Good to Go' after Crash

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Denny Hamlin says he feels "100 percent and good to go" after a hard crash at Kansas Speedway. Hamlin was back in the car Friday, a day after hitting the wall at 202 mph during testing on the repaved surface. He's third behind Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson in the Chase standings entering Sunday's race. Hamlin was only a few laps into Thursday's test session when he crashed entering Turn 1. He was examined at the infield care center, and then had another series of evaluations an hour later, before he was finally cleared to resume testing. Driver safety has been in the spotlight recently after Dale Earnhardt Jr. took himself out of his car following two concussions in a six-week span.

No. 4 K-State, No. 17 WVU Play This Weekend in Big 12 Battle

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Collin Klein vs. Geno Smith. A showcase of Heisman Trophy contenders. A share of Big 12 supremacy at stake. Number 4-ranked Kansas State at number 17 West Virginia has implications on several fronts. The Wildcats (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) can keep first place to themselves on Saturday night in Morgantown while maintaining their national championship hopes. The Mountaineers (5-1, 2-1) had similar dreams dashed last week, but they still have BCS aspirations and will try to create a three-way tie atop the conference. Smith might need one of his typical big passing games to get it done. Standing in his way is Klein, the mobile Kansas State quarterback who has climbed into the Heisman Trophy discussion alongside Smith.

No. 10 Oklahoma Aims for Big Win Against Unranked KU

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — At Oklahoma, there's no feeling quite like plopping the Golden Hat trophy on your head and walking off the Cotton Bowl field with a victory against rival Texas in hand. Even so, the 10th-ranked Sooners (4-1, 2-1 Big 12) know it can get much better than that. When Bob Stoops has his teams playing at their best, a Red River Rivalry win often means there's a championship in store when the end of the season comes. It didn't happen that way after last year's Red River Rivalry blowout, with the Sooners scuffling through a win at the University of Kansas that foreshadowed three losses in the second half of the season. They want to reverse that trend when the Jayhawks (1-5, 0-3) last place in the Big 12... visit Norman on Saturday night after this year's Red River rout.

Punter Dustin Colquitt a Bright Spot for Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — In what will come as a huge relief to worried, frustrated, restive and angry Kansas City fans, Dustin Colquitt sounds like he has no desire to leave the Chiefs. If Colquitt does sign a new contract, it also will be one less criticism that embattled general manager Scott Pioli has to dodge. Colquitt has become a deadeye master of directional punting, providing the Chiefs with hundreds of yards of valuable field position. He's clearly one of the finest punters in the NFL as well as one of the finest players, period, on an underachieving Chiefs roster. Freed of nagging injuries, the 30-year-old Colquitt is enjoying perhaps his best season, even though the 1-5 Chiefs skidded into their bye week on the heels of one of their worst stretches in decades.


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