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Regional Headlines for Friday, September 28, 2012




Kansas Taxes $28M Better Than Expected in September


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Revenue says the state's tax collections in September topped expectations by $28 million. State officials released the figures Friday, calling the unanticipated bulge in revenues a positive signal about the Kansas economy. A revenue forecast issued earlier this year predicted that the state would receive $582 million in taxes in September. The Revenue Department says the state actually collected nearly $611 million, a difference of almost 5 percent. The surplus in September was more than enough to wipe out a shortfall in August. For the fiscal year beginning July 1, the state is now running $16 million ahead on tax collections totaling $1.5 billion. Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan noted that the state has reported employment growth this year.


Brownback Names Panel on School Funding Efficiency

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has created a task force charged with finding ways for schools to put more of their state funding directly into classrooms. Brownback announced formation of the Governor's School Efficiency Task Force on Friday, to be chaired by State Board of Education member Ken Willard of Hutchinson. Several accountants and the governor's budget director are also on the panel. A news release from Brownback's office says a recent survey found just 15 of the state's 286 school districts are meeting the statutory requirement to spend 65 percent of their state aid on the classroom. Brownback says he wants to find ways to reduce administrative costs, eliminate overhead and devote more spending to supporting classroom instruction.


Kansas Official Seeks End of Suit on Obama's Ballot Listing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to remove President Barack Obama from the state's November 6 ballot. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Deputy Secretary of State Ryan Kriegshauser argues in the request that taking President Obama off the ballot would violate some voters' the rights. Kriegshauser notes that Kansas began mailing ballots with Obama's name to military personnel overseas last week. The lawsuit was filed last week in Shawnee County District Court by California attorney and dentist Orly Taitz. She has promoted the discredited notion in several states that Barack Obama isn't eligible to serve as president. District Judge Larry Hendricks has scheduled a hearing on the lawsuit Wednesday.


Kansas Democrats Concerned About Future Budget Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Democratic leaders of the Kansas House and Senate are renewing concerns about the effects of new cuts in state income taxes. Republican Governor Sam Brownback's administration has asked agencies to cut 10 percent of their spending in their budget requests for the fiscal year that starts next July. House Minority Leader Paul Davis and Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley said Friday they're concerned those cuts will be just the start. They said essential services, including public schools, will face cuts while the state relies more on property and sales taxes. Brownback's spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, says agencies are being asked to prepare for several contingencies, including reduced federal spending. She says the state will have a better picture of spending issues when new revenue projections are released in November.


Interior Renovations Revealed at Kansas Statehouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Statehouse's above-ground floors are now ready for visitors who want to wander and gawk at 12 years' worth of renovation work. Those floors were fully open Friday. The renovation wasn't quite complete, because workers still have polishing and cleaning to do, and furniture will be moved into empty offices in the coming weeks. But elementary school students were able to stand in the center of the first-floor rotunda and bend their necks back to stare up at the dome. Both they and the parents who accompanied them were impressed. If the results are eye-popping, so is the cost. The entire renovation is expected to cost $332 million once work on the Statehouse grounds, the building's exterior and a new basement visitor center is completed next year.


USDA Revises Estimated Size of Kansas Wheat Harvest

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government estimate reduces the size of this year's winter wheat harvest in Kansas. Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday the state harvested 382.2 million bushels of winter wheat. The new number is about 1 percent lower than last month's report. But it is up 38 percent compared with the drought-stricken harvest of last year. Growers in Kansas this year hauled in the largest winter wheat crop since 2003. The grain was cut from 9.1 million acres this year. That is 15 percent more wheat acres than the previous harvest. It would have been even higher had farmers been able to harvest all of the 9.5 million acres they had planted to wheat in the fall of 2011. Yields were estimated at 42 bushels per acre.


FCC Investigates Pirate Radio Station in Manhattan

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Federal officials are investigating a pirate radio station in Manhattan. Ron Ramage, district director of the FCC office in Kansas City, told KMAN that investigators were in Manhattan Thursday to investigate the station after receiving complaints from citizens. The station was operating under the 88.3 frequency on the FM dial. KMAN reports the station was broadcasting an anti-government program, with mention of alleged national and global conspiracies. The investigation continues. Ramage said he couldn't comment on what a possible penalty would be.


2,700 Pounds of Marijuana Seized in Johnson County

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Police in northeastern Kansas say they've seized about 2,700 pounds of marijuana from a vacant landscaping company warehouse in a Johnson County industrial park. The seizure Friday morning by Lenexa police follows a recent investigation and arrest by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in Indianapolis, plus an arrest in the Kansas City area. Lenexa police say undercover officers investigated the warehouse for the past week and found hundreds of boxes of plastic cups. Police say each box contained two bundles of marijuana hidden behind plastic cup sleeves. Authorities estimate the street value of the marijuana at $1.5 million. Police said details of the arrests would be released later, and more arrests are expected.


Salina Police Officer Injured, 1 Man Dead in Shooting

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — One man has been killed and a Salina police officer is hospitalized after a shooting at a home. Police Chief Jim Hill says officers went to the home late Thursday on a report of a man with a gun. The Salina Journal reports that when police arrived and weren't able to contact the suspect, five officers entered the house early Friday, announcing their presence. Hill says the suspect, 19-year-old Marijon Gadson, responded by firing multiple shots, striking Officer Charleton Huen in the face. Hill said police then returned fire, retrieved Huen and called for an ambulance. Police re-entered the house around 6 a.m. Friday and found Gadson dead in the basement. The cause of his death wasn't immediately clear. Huen was taken to a hospital in Oklahoma.

Kansas Regents Fall Enrollment Up Slightly

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents says a 13 percent rise in fall enrollment at the six technical colleges helped drive a slight increase in students attending the state's public institutions of higher education. The board released preliminary figures Thursday showing fall enrollment at the 32 universities, community colleges and technical colleges up by 458 from last September, to roughly 188,700. Combined enrollment at the seven Regents universities was down by 152 students from the fall of 2011. The University of Kansas reported slightly less than 28,000 students at its campuses. Kansas State University was the second-largest with slightly more than 24,000 students. Fall enrollment at Kansas's 19 community colleges was down by 150 students from last year.

Lawsuit Accuses BNSF of Discrimination

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — BNSF Railway Company is being sued after it declined to hire a man who suffered injuries in a car accident more than 20 years ago. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas that the decision violated the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Kansas City Star reported Thursday that BNSF refused to hire Kent Duty, a Kansas City area resident, as a locomotive electrician in 2008. The company believed hand and wrist injuries he suffered in the accident made him unable to perform the job. EEOC attorneys allege the company's medical officer disqualified Duty without testing his grip strength or other abilities. The company said in a statement that it couldn't comment because it had not seen the lawsuit.

Kansas Child Molester Sentenced to Life in Prison

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — The former manager of an eastern Kansas mobile home park has been sentenced to life in prison for molesting four children from November 2009 to May of this year in his trailer. Sixty-one-year-old Lawrence McDonagh II, of Tonganoxie, was sentenced Thursday in Leavenworth County District Court on multiple counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. McDonagh pleaded no contest in August. He was arrested in May after deputies served a search warrant at the Paradise Mobile Home Park and seized several items from his home. Prosecutor Todd Thompson says McDonagh initially was charged with eavesdropping for secretly videotaping children, but the charges were amended after evidence led to the molestation charges.

2nd Man Charged in Death of Tabor Football Player

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — A second former McPherson College football player has been charged in the beating death of a football player from nearby Tabor College. The McPherson County prosecutor's office confirmed Thursday that 19-year-old Dequinte Flournoy of Dallas was charged Wednesday with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Police say the 26-year-old victim, Brandon Brown of Sacramento, California was found lying unconscious September 16th. He was found after a fight at a party in McPherson, about 25 miles from the Tabor campus in Hillsboro. He never regained consciousness and died last Saturday. Flournoy played football for McPherson College in 2011 but left the team in August. He has been suspended from McPherson College, pending the outcome of the case. Bond has been set at $500,000. His attorney, Brent Boyer, didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.


 Former Residents Say Goodbye to Contaminated Town

TREECE, Kan. (AP) — Residents of a former mining town in southeast Kansas said an official farewell to the lead-contaminated town. A ceremony on Thursday marked the official end of a buyout for Treece, which has been mostly empty for the last two years. Treece is officially off the map, after being disincorporated by the state Legislature earlier this year. The Environmental Protection Agency allocated $3.5 million in 2009 to buy out residents after the town was found to be unsafe because of the tons of remains from decades of lead and zinc mining. Treece and nearby Picher, Oklahoma produced much of the lead that was used for bullets in two world wars. The Wichita Eagle reports once the cleanup is done, the land will be used for hunting and grazing.


KC Police Continue to Investigate "Baby Lisa" Disappearance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are continuing to investigate  the disappearance of Lisa Irwin, who was 10 months old when she was last seen in her home nearly a year ago. Authorities said Friday they've checked more than 1,600 tips since Lisa was reported missing on October 4, 2011. Police say about 500 tips have been mistaken sightings, and several have stemmed from online rumors. There have been no arrests. Investigators are currently following about a dozen tips. Police also say leads provided by the family and their attorneys haven't benefited the investigation. Officers would still like a one-on-one interview with Deborah Bradley, the baby's mother, because she was the only adult in the home at the time of the disappearance. The phone at the family's home wasn't taking messages Friday.

Kansas Board, Doctor Battle over Abortion Case Costs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas doctor who lost her license over abortion referrals is fighting efforts by state regulators to force her to post a bond to cover nearly $93,000 in costs as she appeals to the courts. Attorney Kelly Kauffman said Thursday that Doctor Ann Kristin Neuhaus can't afford to pursue a lawsuit against the State Board of Healing Arts if she must post a bond. Neuhaus lost her license in June. The board concluded she didn't provide adequate mental health exams for young patients she referred in 2003 to the late DoctorGeorge Tiller for late-term abortions. The bond would cover the board's previous costs in her case. The board ordered Neuhaus to pay the costs but suspended the requirement while Neuhaus pursues her lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court.

JCCC and Emporia State Sign Transfer Pact

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A northeastern Kansas community college hopes to improve its rate of students completing degrees through a new arrangement with Emporia State University. Students who complete at least 45 college credits at Johnson County Community College will be able to finish their associate's degrees at Emporia State. The schools announced the so-called reverse transfer agreement Thursday. Johnson County Community College reached a similar agreement with Kansas State University in March. Community colleges are under pressure to show their students are completing degrees. One concern is that they don't receive credit for many students who transfer to four-year institutions where they earn bachelor's degrees. Many community college students don't bother earning an associate's degree before transferring, and that hurts the community college's completion rate.


Suit Once Involving Vatican Ending After a Decade

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A lawsuit related to the scams of a financier who claimed to have ties to the Vatican while looting insurance companies is winding down after more than a decade of legal wrangling. Attorneys for Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney filed a motion Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Mississippi that seeks to voluntarily dismiss the last three defendants, including an elderly priest and a charitable foundation. The lawsuit originally was filed in 2001 by Cheney's predecessor, George Dale, after notorious financier Martin Frankel bilked insurers in five states during the 1990s. Insurance regulators in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas joined the lawsuit. The Vatican was added as a defendant in 2002, but claims against the church were dropped earlier this year.

Central Kansas Town Giving Away Land for Homes

HOISINGTON, Kan. (AP) — The central Kansas community of Hoisington is giving away up to 15 home sites of roughly 12,000 square feet each to families willing to build houses on them. The Great Bend Tribune reports the acreage is a former mobile home park that was donated to Hoisington on the condition that it not be sold. The Hoisington City Land Bank decided this week to give the lots on a first-come, first-served basis to families who pay a refundable earnest fee of $500. Hoisington city manager Jonathan Mitchell says the program has the potential to increase the population and property valuation in the community of about 2,700 people. Houses built on the lots will have to measure at least 1,500 square feet on the main floor and have a basement and garage.


Attorneys Seek Grand Jury in Firefighter Deaths

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Defense attorneys for two of five people sentenced to life for a 1988 explosion that killed six Kansas City firefighters say they have new information a grand jury should hear.
Olathe-based attorney Cheryl Pilate and Midwest Innocence Project legal director Laura Sullivan said Friday that their clients should be exonerated. They wouldn't elaborate on the new information other than to say it comes from people who drove by the blast site before and after the explosion. The attorneys are asking for anyone else who remembers anything related to the explosion to come forward. Five people were convicted in 1997 in the arson fire that caused the explosion.
One of those defendants died in prison three years ago. The others remain behind bars and continue to profess their innocence.


KU Signs Hoops Coach Self to New Contract

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has agreed to a new contract that will play him $3.856 million annually through the 2021-22 season. The school announced the deal Friday. It replaces a previous contract that ran through June 2018. Self can earn a retention bonus of $876,000 per year, payable in 2015 and 2018. The second retention bonus is replaced in 2019 by an agreement to pay Self a one-time sum of $6 million if he remains the Jayhawks' coach through the 2022 season. Other perks include bonuses for regular-season and conference tournament titles, Final Four appearances, a national championship and winning AP coach of the year. Self led Kansas to the 2008 national title. The Jayhawks lost to Kentucky in the championship game last April.

Kansas Speedway Road Race Set for August 2013

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ The first road race at Kansas Speedway is scheduled for next August. The Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Sports Car Challenge Series will take to the new road course built inside the speedway under the lights on August 16-17, 2013. The course was built this summer during an extensive renovation to Kansas Speedway. The two NASCAR races scheduled for the tri-oval next year are April 19-21 and October 4-6. The road race gives the speedway a third date of racing on the calendar.

Missouri Treasurer to Help Elderly Claim Property

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — State Treasurer Clint Zweifel is working with the AARP to help older Missourians recover unclaimed property. Zweifel and members of the organization announced a new education initiative on unclaimed property Thursday in Kansas City. Unclaimed property includes cash from dormant bank accounts, items in safety deposit boxes and other assets turned over to the treasurer's office by banks, insurance companies and government agencies. Zweifel's office estimates it's holding onto about $700 million in unclaimed property. Zweifel says he has assigned a staff member to answer questions from older Missourians about recovering such property. The AARP is also planning to hold meetings on the topic.


Missouri Teen Involved in Fatal Crash Sent to Prison

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 17-year-old Kansas City girl who received probation after causing a fatal accident while texting has been sent to prison for violating her probation. Rachel Gannon pleaded guilty in May to second-degree involuntary manslaughter and other charges after in the September 2011 death of 72-year-old Loretta Larimer of Camden Point. She was placed on five years of probation after serving 48 hours of "shock time" and 72 hours of house arrest. On Thursday, Gannon was sentenced to a year in Platte County jail. Prosecutors say Gannon violated her probation by moving out of her parents' home, quitting her job and consuming alcohol. The Kansas City Star reports she will be allowed to attend high school classes each day but must then return to jail.


Kansas City Man Accused of 5 Rapes in 1980s

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 55-year-old Kansas City man who is currently in prison is now charged with five rapes committed in midtown Kansas City in the 1980s. Jackson County prosecutors said Friday that Ozie Banks is charged with five counts of forcible rape, three counts of forcible sodomy and one count of first-degree robbery. Prosecutors say Banks entered his victims' homes and assaulted them between 1986 and 1989. Most of the women were asleep when they were attacked. The victims ranged in age from 13 to 41. Banks is serving a 60-year sentence in Missouri on rape and sodomy charges after a 1986 assault. He would have been eligible for parole on those charges in 2018.


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