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Regional Headlines for Friday, October 26, 2012


Governor Unveils 'Property Tax Transparency' Plan 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback joined legislative leaders in unveiling a "property tax transparency" law intended to stem the rise of such taxes when assessed property values increase. The governor said Friday the bill would require local governments to publicly vote to raise property taxes, rather than simply approve budgets based on growing assessments. He said the state does not intend to raise its share of property taxes. Republican state Senator Susan Wagle says the plan would put a flexible cap on property taxes, and exempts new construction. Democratic state Representative Jim Ward says Democrats  tried to pass property tax relief last session that would have taken effect this year. He says the governor is not being honest because Kansans understand that income taxes can't be cut without affecting local property taxes.


Science Debate Shadows Kansas School Board Hopefuls

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State Board of Education races this year are shadowed by an emerging conflict over science standards for public schools. And it's not all about evolution. Climate change is a potential political flashpoint. Kansas is working with 25 other states and the National Research Council on common standards. If adopted next year, the guidelines could encourage schools to spend far more time teaching students about the Earth's climate and how human activity affects it. State board candidates are used to questions about the state's science standards because of past debates about how evolution should be taught. The possibility of a similar debate about climate change is a new twist as the November 6 election approaches. Five of the board's 10 seats are on the ballot, and three races are contested.


Kansas Supreme Court Considers Capital Murder Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for a man sentenced to die over the killings of a Great Bend couple in 2004 says he should get a new trial because a cousin involved in the crimes reneged on a plea agreement. Capital appellate defender Sarah Ellen Johnson told the Kansas Supreme Court Friday that Sidney Gleason did not get a fair trial before he was sentenced to death in 2006. She argued the defense couldn't question Gleason's cousin, Damien Thompson, because he refused to testify at trial. Thompson had struck a deal to testify to avoid a possible death sentence. The murder victims were Miki Martinez and boyfriend Darren Wornkey. Their deaths were days after a robbery at which Martinez was present. Prosecutors say Gleason and Thompson worried about what Martinez would tell police.


6 Cases of Hepatitis Confirmed at Hays Hospital

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas health department says it has now confirmed six cases of hepatitis C in Hays Medical Center patients linked to a traveling technician. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Wednesday that the six of 474 patients who had contact with David Kwiatkowski at the Hays hospital have a hepatitis C strain linked to him. Kwiatkowski worked in the catheterization lab at the Hays hospital from May to September 2010. Kwiatkowski has denied allegations that he injected himself and used contaminated syringes on patients across the country. So far, prosecutors say 32 cases across the country are linked to Kwiatkowski. The Hays Daily News reports that 391 Hays patients have submitted specimens, with 374 negative results as of Wednesday.


Kickapoo Tribe Asks Kansas Governor to Help with Water Fight

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The chairman of the Kickapoo Indian tribe in northeast Kansas wants Governor Sam Brownback to intervene in its fight for a reservoir. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Steve Cadue was in Topeka on Friday to receive a proclamation honoring Kansas tribes. While there, Cadue handed out a letter addressed to Brownback asking for help in the tribe's long-running battle with the Nemaha Brown Watershed Board for a reservoir. The Kickapoo have sought to build the Plum Creek Dam for decades to ease water shortages on their reservation. The Kickapoo and the water board came to an agreement in 1998 to build the dam, but landowners won't sell their property to make way for the project and board members have declined to use eminent domain to enforce the agreement.

Hearing Set for Former Credit Union Manager

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A northeastern Kansas woman is expected to admit to stealing from the credit union where she once worked as manager. A court notation entered Thursday sets a change-of-plea hearing for 47-year-old Pamela Emig of Solomon for November 6 in federal court in Topeka. Emig is charged in one count of embezzlement for allegedly stealing $817,167 from April 2005 to August 2011 from Enterprise Credit in Enterprise. Her defense attorney, Christopher Joseph, has said his client is a good person who found herself in a difficult financial situation and made a series of bad decisions to save her farm.

Trustee: Hawker Beechcraft Attorney Fees Excessive

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Justice Department's watchdog agency is objecting to more than $12 million in fees racked up during the first three months of Hawker Beechcraft's bankruptcy proceedings. In a filing Thursday, U.S. Trustee Tracy Hope Davis particularly chided the company for fees lawyers billed for the company's failed attempt to pay its eight senior executives millions in bonuses. The government called the fees excessive and unreasonable. And the trustee noted the lawyers spent more time working on the bonus plan than other projects. More than $12.2 million in compensation and $642,000 in expenses were billed between May and July. The trustee is asking the court not to grant any fees sought in connection with the executive bonus plan.

Johnson County Man Sentenced for Bank Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Johnson County man has been sentenced to about six years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of bank fraud and money laundering. The U.S. Attorney's office for Kansas says in a release that 56-year-old Paul L. Hartfield was also ordered this week to pay about $2.6 million in restitution. In charges filed against Hartfield in 2010, prosecutors said he owned Hart Investments and Diamond Mortgage and obtained $4.9 million in loans to rehabilitate more than 40 homes in the Kansas City metro area. But he stopped rehabilitating the homes in October 2006 and made false claims to lenders. He was also accused of recruiting friends and family to buy properties he had claimed to fix, using fraudulent financial information.


City Wants Test Excavations at Lawrence Hotel Site

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A hotel development project in downtown Lawrence might solve an historical mystery dating to the early 1900s. City officials say they are likely to ask for test excavations at a proposed hotel site to look for evidence that several black soldiers killed in Quantrill's Raid are buried there. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a 1903 master's thesis by a University of Kansas student contends the soldiers were buried there, but historians haven't been able to corroborate the claim. Kansas state archaeologist Robert Hoard asked City Manager David Corliss in March to consider allowing him to do text excavations at the site before any development occurred. A spokesman for the project's development group said he was open to discussing the issue with city officials.

Man Arrested after Allegedly Setting Salina Apartment Complex Fire

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina man is jailed after being accused of starting a fire that forced more than a dozen people to evacuate their apartments. Salina police say the 38-year-old man set the fire in a bed and trash can while visiting an acquaintance Wednesday night. He allegedly used a blow torch found in the apartment to start the fire. The Salina Journal reports the apartment resident, Paul J. Smith, suffered minor injuries while trying to extinguish the fire. No one else was injured. The fire caused an estimated $35,000 in damage. The Red Cross says 14 other apartment residents were affected by the fire, and it helped eight with food, clothing and temporary shelter.

Ex-Head of Honor Flight Group Faces Theft Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The former head of a western Kansas program that took World War II veterans to Washington is accused of stealing more than $100,000. LaVeta Miller was arrested Thursday on a warrant charging her with theft by deception. A Barton County records clerk says Miller is jailed on $20,000 bond. The clerk didn't know if Miller had an attorney. The Wichita Eagle reports that Miller worked as program director for Central Prairie Honor Flight until she was fired in July. The Great Bend group raised nearly $1.2 million and conducted 17 Honor Flights that took 1,100 Second World War veterans to Washington from 2008 through 2011. A message that The Associated Press left after hours for the Barton County prosecutor's office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation weren't immediately returned.


JCCC President Terry Calaway Announces Retirement

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The president of Johnson County Community College has announced his retirement. The 22,000-student school announced Friday that Terry Calaway plans to depart August 1 to spend more time with his family. Calaway became the fourth president of Johnson County Community College in June 2007. Since then, enrollment has increased 8 percent. He also oversaw the opening of a several buildings, including a contemporary art museum and a health education center on the grounds of Olathe Medical Center. Calaway says the school has the best faculty and staff of any college in the nation. He says he looks forward to watching the school get even better and "will be their loudest cheerleader." The school's board of trustees will announce its plans for finding a new president in the next several weeks.

Wichita Inflatables Operator Found Guilty of Licensure Violations

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man who operates a Wichita inflatables company where a child died has been convicted of running the business without proper licensing. The Wichita Eagle reports that Jesse Zogleman was found guilty Wednesday in municipal court on two of three misdemeanor charges he faced. Court records show he was ordered to pay $730 in fines and court costs and put on probation for 12 months. Zogleman runs the day-to-day operations for Moonwalks for Fun and Pure Entertainment. In 2010, a 5-year-old boy died at Pure Entertainment after falling off an inflatable provided by Moonwalks for Fun. Afterward, the city's inflatables ordinances were tightened. Moonwalks for Fun's license to operate inside city limits revoked last year after a liability coverage lapse. But prosecutors said he continued attempting to do business.

2 Fatal Accidents Investigated in Butler County

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — The Butler County Sheriff's Office says two men were killed in separate traffic accidents in the county within hours of each other. The first accident occurred Thursday night south of Augusta on Highway 77. A passerby found a man dead outside a vehicle. Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet identified the victim as 38-year-old Charles White of Douglass. Two girls, a 2-year-old and 3-year-old, suffered minor injuries and were taken to a Wichita hospital. The second accident was discovered early Friday. A passerby found a wrecked car on Kansas 254 just east of Benton. Herzet says the driver, 18-year-old Austin Taylor of Valley Center, was thrown from the vehicle and was dead at the scene. No one else was in the car.

Trial Dates Set for Parents of Children Found Bound in Parking Lot

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Trial dates have been set for the parents of two children found bound and blindfolded in a Walmart parking lot in Lawrence. The Douglas County district attorney's office says 52-year-old Adolfo Gomez will stand trial on January 7th. His wife, 44-year-old Deborah Gomez, is set for trial February 4th. The Gomezes, of Northlake, Illinois have pleaded not guilty to charges of child abuse and child endangerment. They were arrested June 13 after Lawrence police found two children, ages 5 and 7, tied up outside the family's vehicle. Three other older children were inside the SUV unrestrained. The couple told police they were on their way to Arizona when their car broke down, and that they periodically restrained their children as part of their religion and to ward off demons.


KC Symposium Brings Together Experts in New Field

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Experts in a new field that explores how genes adapt in response to environmental changes are meeting this weekend in Kansas City. Kansas State University's Loretta Johnson and Michael Herman teamed up a decade ago to start research in the field of ecological genomics. Now, the university's Ecological Genomics Institute is putting on a 10th anniversary symposium from Friday through Sunday at the Marriott on the Country Club Plaza. When Johnson and Herman first collaborated, their research appeared unrelated. Johnson had been studying the root systems of prairie grass, while Herman's research was focused on a type of roundworm. Herman says they decided they could forge a new area that explores genomes' role in ecological interactions. Johnson says the research helps predict how organisms will respond to environmental change.


KU Forward Young Breaks Hand, Out 2 Weeks

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kevin Young, a senior forward for the University of Kansas men's basketball team, will be out for about two weeks after breaking a bone in his hand. Coach Bill Self said Young broke a bone in the middle of his right hand Thursday during practice. Self says Young had surgery Friday and is expected to be shooting baskets without contact in about 10 days and may be back on the court within two weeks. Young, of Perris, California, was a top reserve for the Jayhawks during last year's run to the NCAA title game, averaging 11.4 minutes, 3.4 points and 3 rebounds per game. The Jayhawks were ranked seventh in the nation in this week's Associated Press preseason basketball poll. 


Emporia State Football Loses Perfect Season Bid

Emporia State's football team lost its perfect record last night. Missouri Western beat the Hornets 57-28, leaving Emporia State with a record of 8-1.


Texas Longhorns Have No Intention of Overlooking KU Contest

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Texas doesn't have any intention of overlooking its game with the University of Kansas on Saturday. It doesn't matter that the Jayhawks have only won one game, or that they were blown out last week by Oklahoma, or that there's an unproven freshman quarterback under center. The reason is simple: The Longhorns haven't proven they can overlook anybody. University of Texas coach Mack Brown said as much this week. Texas (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) is coming off a close, high-scoring win over Baylor that snapped a two-game skid. The Jayhawks (1-6, 0-4) have lost six straight.



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