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Regional Headlines for Monday, April 15, 2013



Kansas Officials Waiting for Details of Obama Visit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State officials have been left to speculate about President Barack Obama's plans for a visit this week to the University of Kansas as they wait to hear more details. The White House confirmed Monday that Obama is planning an official event Friday at the university but provided no other information. University spokesman Jack Martin said it had no details. Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon said the White House told state party officials that it was looking for a site that could hold 3,000 to 6,000 people for a midday event. But Wagnon said she still hasn't received any details about the purpose of Obama's visit. Kansas is a Republican stronghold, and the Democratic president received 38 percent of the state's vote in winning re-election last year.


9 Injured in Kansas Turnpike Crash

TOWANDA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Turnpike Authority says nine people are recovering from injuries suffered when the passenger van they were in crashed on the Kansas Turnpike. The patrol says two of the people hurt in the accident Sunday near the Towanda Service area are in critical condition. The authority says the van carried four men, four women and a 2-month-old girl when it went out of control and overturned after one of the tires lost its tread and the driver slammed on the brakes. The authority says eight people were taken to Wichita hospitals and another drove to the hospital.


Brownback to Tour State Universities

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback will visit leaders and students at public universities and colleges around Kansas to discuss his support for higher education funding. The Republican governor says in a release Monday that protecting higher education funding must be a priority as the state makes spending decisions for the next two budget years. Brownback's tentative schedule begins with stops April 22 at Wichita State University and Butler Community College and concludes May 6 at Kansas State University. Kansas legislators are still working on the state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. They return May 8 from a break that began April 5. Brownback says all state agencies must find efficiencies but believes higher education spending must remain level.


Budget Proposals Include New Kansas Park

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The budgets proposed by the Kansas House and Senate include a plan to buy land in northeast Kansas for a new park. The state parks department says it wants to buy 824 acres in Jefferson County for a park that would be used primarily for hunting and hiking. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the three parcels of land in southern Jefferson County, east of Perry, have an appraised value of $1.2 million. The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is proposing that the land be purchased with Pittman-Robertson funds, which come from a tax on hunting and fishing equipment that is collected by the federal government and distributed to the states.


DWR Says Employees Being Threatened

SCOTT CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Division of Water Resources wants help from local authorities in cracking down on threats to state water employees who check on water use violations. Kim Christianson, legal counsel for the Division of Water Resources, says sheriffs and county attorneys in most drought-ravaged western Kansas counties will be receiving a letter from her detailing laws that can be violated when people threaten state water employees. She told a recent meeting of the Ogallala Aquifer Advisory Committee the letters will help the agency reinforce its concern about employee safety. The Hays Daily News reports that some agency employees are being physically and verbally threatened, but that no one has been injured. Water resources employees are doing site checks more frequently because of the drought.


USDA: Kansas Beef Cattle Numbers Lowest Since 1999

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Beef cattle numbers in Kansas are at their lowest level in 14 years because of the ongoing drought, but dairy herds are growing slightly to make up for lost production in other states. The Hutchinson News reports hot, dry conditions have been the main factor in the reduced numbers because of dried-up pastures and reduced hay, corn and soybean crops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports there were 2.05 million cattle on Kansas feedlots March 1st, which is 7 percent fewer than at the same time a year ago. Kansas Livestock Association spokeswoman Scarlett Hagins says another dry summer could force some producers out of business. The USDA says dairy cattle numbers in Kansas have risen slightly, but production is down by about 45 pounds per cow.


Kansas Couple Sentenced for Running Illegal Gun Shop

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — More than 40 people packed a courtroom to support a convicted felon and his wife who illegally sold firearms out of their combined beauty salon and gun shop. A federal judge sentenced Jeffrey Eberhart to five years in prison for selling firearms without license. Marshals immediately took him into custody. He told the judge he didn't realize the ramifications of his crime and called his actions stupid. His wife, Tracy, got three years of probation with six months of home detention. She pleaded guilty to failure to keep required sales records. She obtained a federal firearms dealers license, but omitted her husband's name on the application. The charges stem from sales between 2009 to August 2012 at an Augusta shop called Dream Weavers Salon and Sporting Goods.

Sheriff: Victims Found in Fire Killed by Firearm

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a mother and her 5-year-old daughter whose bodies were found after a house fire in rural southeastern Kansas died from gunshot wounds, victims of a double murder-suicide. The woman's husband was found in a vehicle outside the home, dead of a self-inflicted injury. The Bourbon County Sheriff's office said Monday that autopsies determined 30-year-old Terry Lynn Prestley and her daughter died from gunshot wounds. Their bodies were discovered Thursday in the wreckage of their home near Fort Scott. The sheriff's office said in a news release that the man whose body was found in a vehicle outside the home was 30-year-old Donald "Bryce" Prestley. Authorities did not say how the man killed himself. Authorities refused to elaborate on other details of the investigation.

Dish Network Offering to Buy Sprint in $25.5B Deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Dish Network is offering to buy Sprint Nextel Corporation in a cash-and-stock deal it values at $25.5 billion, saying its bid is superior to that of Japanese phone company SoftBank. Sprint's stock jumped in premarket trading Monday. Dish, an Englewood, Colorado satellite television company, said that its transaction includes $17.3 billion in cash and $8.2 billion in stock. Sprint stockholders would receive $7 per share, which is a 13 percent premium to its Friday closing price of $6.22. This includes $4.76 per share in cash and nearly 0.06 Dish shares per Sprint share. Softbank is seeking approval from U.S. authorities for its $20 billion purchase of a 70 percent stake in Sprint Nextel that would be Japan's biggest foreign acquisition ever. Dish Network said that its offer is a 13 percent premium over the existing SoftBank proposal.

Airbus Expanding Wichita Plant, Workforce

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Airbus Americas Engineering says it is planning to expand into a third space in downtown Wichita. The company announced Monday it has already hired more people than had been expected after its last expansion. The firm's vice president of engineering, John O'Leary, says it has hired 150 people, more than the 100 it had planned to hire when it expanded in 2012. The company now employs about 400 people in Wichita. The new building is adjacent to the company's current facility. It will give the company 10,000 square feet to provide more space for current operations and allow for future growth.


Woman Found Stuck in Mud Along Kansas River

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Topeka say a woman reported missing from a nursing home was rescued more than 15 hours later from mud along the Kansas River. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that police were uncertain how long the woman — described as in her 70s — was stuck along the river before she was found around 9 am Monday. The nursing home reported the woman missing about 3:30 pm Sunday after she failed to return from church services. Police were trying to find out how she wound up along the south bank of the Kansas River, where a passer-by spotted her from a bridge Monday morning. Emergency crews pulled her from the mud and took her to a hospital for treatment. Authorities said the woman uses a walker.


Kansas Boy Dies After Shooting Accident with Family

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 7-year-old central Kansas boy has died after being shot with a handgun that he and other family members were shooting. Saline County Sheriff Glen Kochanowski on Sunday identified the victim as Gavin Brummett of rural Salina. Gavin was shot around 5:45 pm Friday while he, his brother and their father were shooting a semi-automatic 9 millimeter handgun. The sheriff says Gavin was shooting the gun when his father, Rodney Brummett Junior, heard two rapid-in-succession shots. Brummett saw the wounds and rushed his son to the hospital, and Gavin later was flown by air ambulance to Wichita. Investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy to be performed Monday.


About 7,000 Homes Lose Electricity in KCK Outage

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Nearly 7,000 eastern Kansas residents were without electricity after a transformer went out and knocked out power in one of the utility's main lines. The Board of Public Utilities website says power went out around 9:10 am Sunday at a substation in Kansas City, Kansas. Service was restored in the area by late Sunday morning. BPU spokesman David Mehlhoff says the utility was trying to figure out what happened to cause the outage.


Police: Craigslist Robbery Attempt a Good Lesson

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say an attempted weekend robbery involving a video game system advertised on Craigslist shows why people need to be careful when buying or selling items on the website. Two men in their early 20s went to a meeting place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday to buy a Sony PlayStation. Police say the men were in their vehicle negotiating a purchase price when the male seller tried to climb into the vehicle and rob them. The assailant pulled a handgun from his backpack and fired at the would-be buyers as they tried to drive away. A police spokesman says five to six shots were fired at the vehicle, but missed. Police say the man who fired the shots fled with a second man on foot.


Fort Leavenworth to Practice Storm Response

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Weather permitting, Army units and civilian employees at Fort Leavenworth will test their responses this week to a simulated tornado hitting the northeast Kansas post. The two-day exercise starts Tuesday with the sounding of a tornado siren in the morning, as long as there isn't inclement weather in the area. First responders and other crews will report in shifts Tuesday and Wednesday to various locations at Fort Leavenworth.


Wichita Grappling with Air Quality Regulations

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita officials are asking for the public's help this summer in working with the city to curtail high ozone levels, which can cause health risks and bring costly federal regulation. Local officials say the city plans to ask residents to reduce travel and other emissions if ozone levels exceed standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The city also has plans to change its operations daily if ozone levels spike, which can cause breathing problems for children and elderly people with any kind of lung problems. Air quality specialist Tonya Bronleewe also notes that if Wichita exceeds its ozone limits, it risks more regulation from the federal government. Gas prices could go up, businesses could face stringent regulations and highway funding could be jeopardized.


Court Upholds Kansas Man's Conviction in Father's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man will remain in prison for killing his father, after the Kansas Supreme Court upheld his conviction. Sixty-six-year-old David A. Stevenson had claimed in his appeal that the May 2008 death of 85-year-old Walter A. Stevenson was an accident. He also claimed prosecutorial misconduct and inadequate jury instructions during his October 2009 trial. David Stevenson was convicted of hitting his father several times with a hammer and putting his body under a grain truck in a shop on his Gove County farm. The Hays Daily News reports that the court on Friday rejected all of Stevenson's claims. Stevenson is serving life in prison for the murder.


Federal Budget Cuts Ground Kansas City Air Show

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The annual Kansas City Air Show has been canceled because of federal budget cuts that grounded the popular Blue Angels and other military support for the air show industry. KC Air Show director Ed Noyallis says the event was not possible without the support of the military aircraft. The Kansas City Star reports as many as 350 air shows across the country have been negatively impacted by the cutbacks. Air show officials say cancellation of the Kansas City event has a direct economic impact of more than $2 million. Among those hurt are performers, food and novelty vendors and exhibitors who make their living working at the shows. Organizers say those who bought air show tickets online should look to receive a refund in coming week.



UMKC Offering "Pride Scholarships" for Gay Students

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gay students who are in financial trouble have some help at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The university offers what it calls Pride Scholarships to students who are struggling to pay their bills, often because they have been rejected by their families. Three students received the scholarships this year. The amounts vary depending on the student's situation. Straight students who have financial problems because of their support for gay people also are eligible for the scholarships. The Kansas City Star reports that one of this year's recipients, 21-year-old Caleb-Michael Files, is making it alone, without support from his parents or guardians. He lost his job last year and thought about not returning to school this year, until he won $2,000 for each semester.


Nelson-Atkins to Feature Kahlo, Rivera Exhibit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is featuring an exhibit this summer on the works of husband-and-wife artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The exhibit — "Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Masterpieces of Modern Mexico" — is from the private collection of Jacques and Natasha Gelman. The museum says in a release that the collection of more than 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs and drawings will be on display June 1 through Aug. 18. Jacques Gelman, a Russian-born film production mogul, and his wife, Natasha, became Mexican citizens in 1942. Their collection spans 40 years and began in 1943 with Rivera's portrait of Natasha Gelman. Kahlo is widely known for her self-portraits. Rivera, her husband, painted large frescos depicting political and social themes.

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