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Regional Headlines for Monday, April 9, 2012


Salina Representative Charlie Roth Giving Up Kansas House Seat

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Charlie Roth of Salina has decided against running for another term in the Kansas House. KSAL-AM reports that Roth made the announcement Monday in a message to friends and supporters. Roth has represented the 71st House District since he took over in 2005 for Carol Beggs, who passed away while in office. Roth's message was quickly followed Monday by an announcement from J.R. Claeys that he intends to run for the 71st District seat. Claeys, who's also from Salina, ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Kansas secretary of state in 2010. Claeys had announced in November he planned to run for the Kansas House from the 69th District.


KS Governor Reappoints State Fair Board Member

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has reappointed the longtime leader of a Kansas agribusiness group to the State Fair Board. Brownback announced Monday that he named Tom Tunnell, of Topeka, to the 13-member board that oversees the state fair in Hutchinson. Tunnell has been president of the Kansas Grain and Feed Association since 1980. The group represents more than 900 agricultural businesses, and its members include almost all of the state's commercial grain elevators. Tunnell has served on the fair board for eight years. He was its president from 2008 until 2011.

MO Contractor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A western Missouri contractor who claimed to be a wounded war hero has pleaded guilty in Kansas to defrauding a federal program that steers business to companies owned by disabled veterans. The U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas says 70-year-old Warren Parker, of Blue Springs, Missouri, pleaded guilty Monday to five counts including major program fraud and money laundering. Parker admitted his company, Silver Star Construction LLC, received roughly $7.5 million in government contracts reserved for businesses owned by disabled vets. Prosecutors say Parker served in the Missouri National Guard from 1963 through 1968, but spent only six months on active duty to attend basic training and his military occupational school. He could face up to 30 years in prison on the conspiracy charge.


KUMed Executive Vice Chancellor Announces Retirement Date 

Dr. Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center and executive dean of the School of Medicine, has announced that she will retire, effective June 30. Under Atkinson's leadership, the size of the KU Medical Center faculty nearly doubled and its Life Sciences Innovation Center was completed. NIH-funded research increased, and the university began its application for designation as a National Cancer Institute. KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has named Professor Steven Stites, the Peter T. Bohan Professor and Chair of Internal Medicine, to serve as acting executive vice chancellor and executive dean, effective immediately. 


Fort Hays Professor, Mother-in-Law, Killed in Accident

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Hays University professor and his mother-in-law died in a car accident over the weekend.  The Kansas Highway Patrol says 67-year-old Fred Ruda and 90-year-old Eleanor Sexson, both of Hays, died in the accident Sunday morning near Dodge City.  Ruda was chairman of the Technology Studies Department at Fort Hays State University. Ruda's wife, Sherrill, was hospitalized with serious injuries.  The patrol says a vehicle driven by 19-year-old Braulio De La Cruz-Gonzalez of Dodge City crossed the center line of U.S. Highway 56 about 7 miles west of Dodge City and struck a car driven by Ruda.  De La Cruz-Gonzalez and a 16-year-old passenger in the SUV were treated at a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  


Spirit AeroSystems Union to Seek Arbitration

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The technical and engineering union for Spirit AeroSystems says it's preparing to file a lawsuit in an effort to obtain an outside arbitrator.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the union alleges Spirit refuses to honor the grievance process from a dispute over changes to the employee rating system.  The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace represents 900 Spirit AeroSystems engineers and technical workers in its bargaining units.  The union says Spirit is refusing to honor the contractual grievance process. It says that under the process, disputes regarding alleged violations of bargaining agreements typically go to an independent arbitrator for a final judgment.  Spirit AeroSystems spokesman Ken Evans says it would be unfortunate if SPEEA chooses to take legal action and stressed that Spirit "values" its labor unions.  


New Flint Hills Center to Open Doors to Public

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A center that chronicles the science and cultural history of the Flint Hills is opening its doors to visitors next weekend in Manhattan.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that an opening ceremony is planned for next Saturday at the $24.5 million, 35,000-square-foot Flint Hills Discovery Center.  First-floor exhibits focus on topics such as the origin of the Flint Hills, cowboys and ranching, railroad communities, burning of the prairie, Plains Indians and the prairie ecosystem. Visitors also can visit the theater and watch a 15-minute film about the Flint Hills.  Center spokeswoman Jaclyn Collins says the second floor contains temporary and traveling exhibit spaces. There's also a "family fun zone" with interactive stations, arts and crafts and a toddler area.  The third floor features an outdoor terrace, classrooms and offices.


Military School Asks Judge to Dismiss Abuse Lawsuit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A military boarding school in Kansas is asking a federal judge to dismiss the latest lawsuit against it. The suit claims a culture of abuse exists at St. John's Military School in Salina.  The lawsuit claims the school allowed higher ranking cadets to beat and otherwise mistreat younger students.  The school is asking a judge to either dismiss the lawsuit or order arbitration of the dispute.  St. John's officials filed several documents in the case on Friday. In one motion, the school asked that an x-ray of a student's broken leg and a photograph of a gagged, blindfolded and bound cadet be removed from public record. St. John's claims the cadet posed for the photograph and complains about media coverage of the photo.


Natural Gas Company Proposes Oil Pipeline Linking Oklahoma and North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A natural gas company wants to get into the crude oil business by building a 1,300-mile oil pipeline from North Dakota to the nation's biggest storage terminal in central Oklahoma. Tulsa-based Oneok Partners LP said Monday the proposed Bakken Crude Express Pipeline would cost between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion. It would be able to move 200,000 barrels of crude daily from North Dakota's rich oil patch to Cushing, Oklahoma. Officials say Oneok's plan brings to six the number of pipeline projects proposed to help ship crude out of the rich reservoirs in western North Dakota. Which projects become a reality will depend on getting supplier commitments. Oneok says it's negotiating commitments that could put it on track to begin construction next year and complete a pipeline by 2015.

Crop-Duster Crashes in SW Kansas; Pilot Injured

LAKIN, Kan. (AP) — A Colorado pilot is hospitalized in Wichita after the crop-dusting plane he was flying crashed in southwestern Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the 1999 fixed-wing plane went down around 9:30 a.m. Monday about two miles east of the Kearny County town of Lakin. The pilot is identified as 58-year-old David Burr, of Montrose, Colorado. He was taken to Kearny County Hospital and later to Wichita's Via Christi-St. Francis Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Monday afternoon. The patrol says the aircraft's right wing clipped a support line on a 305-foot cell tower. The plane hit the ground nose-first near U.S. 50 and flipped over. The Hutchinson News reports the crop-duster was registered to Tri Rotor Spray and Chemical, in the southwestern Kansas town of Ulysses.

Weis Suspends RB Sims for 3 Games

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis has suspended James Sims for the first three games of the 2012 season after the Jayhawks' leading rusher was arrested on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence. Weis announced the suspension Monday, citing a violation of team rules. The Kansas athletics department declined to specify the rules. The Kansas City Star reports the 20-year-old junior was arrested by campus police around 2:15 a.m. Sunday. Douglas County court records show Sims posted $500 bond and has an April 25 appearance scheduled in municipal court. Sims started all 12 games in 2011, rushing for 727 yards and nine touchdowns on 182 carries. As a freshman the previous year, the Texas native led the Jayhawks with 742 yards rushing.


Alcohol-Related Traffic Deaths Drop in Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Fewer people are crashing and dying on Kansas roads because of alcohol.  Preliminary data from the Kansas Department of Transportation shows the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths dropped 45 percent from 138 in 2010 to 76 in 2011. Alcohol-related accidents dropped 12 percent to 2,463.  A traffic safety manager for the agency, Pete Bodyk, says it's too early to tell whether the drops are tied to a new law that requires more people to install ignition interlock systems after being convicted of drunken driving. Under the law that took effect in July, even first-time offenders must have the systems. They keep a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver's breath.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that before 2011, Kansas had been lagging behind the country in reducing alcohol-related fatalities.


KS SRS Chief Promotes Acting Deputy Secretary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The head of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has decided that the agency's acting deputy secretary -- who oversees state hospitals and mental health programs -- will stay in that job.  SRS Secretary Phyllis Gilmore has promoted Gary Haulmark (HALL'-mark) from acting deputy to deputy secretary for the Division of Disability and Behavioral Health Services.  The division oversees hospitals for the mentally ill in Larned, Osawtomie and Kansas City, Kansas, and hospitals for the developmentally disabled in Parsons and Topeka.  It also manages addiction and mental health programs and programs for the physically and developmentally disabled.
Haulmark became acting secretary in January, after serving as the legislative director for SRS. He also served in the Kansas House from 1993 until 1995, representing a Johnson County district.


Taxpayers Could Pay for Cleaver's Car Wash Loan

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Small Business Administration says taxpayers could wind up on the hook for up to $1.1 million to cover a loan Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver took out to pay for a suburban Kansas City car wash.  The Kansas City Star reports that the agency guaranteed roughly 75 percent of the 2002 Bank of America loan to the firm that owns the business, Cleaver Company LLC.  Bank of America alleged in a lawsuit filed last month that the company — along with Cleaver and his wife, Dianne — owed more than $1.46 million in principal and interest on the loan.  Cleaver's spokeswoman didn't immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press.  But The Star reported that Cleaver has previously blamed a "business dispute" for the loan issues.


KS Man Spared Prison in Harper Demolition Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas man who demolished a historic building containing asbestos floor tiles has been sentenced to probation for failing to notify environmental regulators. The U.S. attorney's office says Hugh Allen Barker, of Harper, must also pay a $1,000 fine under the sentence he received Monday in federal court in Wichita. Barker pleaded guilty in January to one felony count, admitting he failed to file required notifications before he began demolishing the Buckeye Building in 2008. The 1885 building was owned by The Balmer Fund, a nonprofit group that restores historic Kansas buildings. Barker owns Barker Sand and Gravel.


Ministry in Western KS Reaches Truckers

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A small ministry in western Kansas has been catering to truckers and travelers at a Garden City truck stop.  The Pit Stop Praise is located at a truck stop north of a junction on U.S. Highway 50. The half-hour program on Friday evenings usually attracts up to about a dozen participants.  Jay Schoonover, an elder with the Garden City Presbyterian Church, helped spearhead the initiative, which started a year ago. He told The Garden City Telegram that many people pass through needing to talk or some sort of assistance.  Yvonne Battles, of the local Church of the Nazarene, also helped start the program. She said truckers often arrive in Garden City on Fridays and must wait until Monday to depart. She says the service gives them a needed break.


Kansas State Student Wins Goldwater Prize

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas State University student majoring in chemistry has received the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.  The Manhattan Mercury reports that junior Angela Grommet of Wichita is the university's 68th Goldwater scholar. Another Kansas State student, Sterling Braun, is an honorable mention in the scholarship competition. Braun is a junior from Fort Scott who is studying premedicine and microbiology.  The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded based on potential and intent to pursue careers in math, the natural sciences or engineering. Both Grommet and Braun are involved in cancer research.


KS Driving School Owner Gets 8 Months in Prison

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — A southwest Kansas driving school owner has been sentenced to eight months in prison for accepting money in exchange for passing grades and commercial driver's license certificates.  The Liberal Leader & Times reports that 58-year-old Lyle Seitter of Liberal also must serve probation and pay restitution. Seitter has pleaded guilty to felony counts of commercial bribery and making a false writing and a misdemeanor count of unlawful use of a driver's license.  Kansas Department of Revenue agents arrested Seitter in December after an undercover operation. Authorities allege a fraudulent passing grade and certificate to bypass Kansas driver's license skills testing were obtained at Seitter's Liberal business, The Driving School.


Anti-Tax Group Trades Barbs with KS Lawmaker Over Mail

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An anti-tax group and a state Senator from Johnson County are exchanging barbs over how mail from constituents was handled.  Senator Terrie Huntington says in a statement that she called and visited the post office to locate mail her constituents thought they had sent her but she hadn't received. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Huntington says a postal worker told her items were at the station with her name on them but containing the address of Kansans for No Income Tax.  The tax organization's leader Ashley McMillan says the group planned to give the mailings to Huntington. It was all part of an effort to get Republicans like Huntington to support tax legislation they supported.  But McMillan said that before the mail was forwarded to the Fairway Republican, Huntington went looking for it.


KU Hires Norm Roberts as Assistant Basketball Coach

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has hired University of Florida assistant Norm Roberts, bringing back a familiar face to join Bill Self's staff. The Jayhawks announced the move Monday, saying Roberts will replace Danny Manning, who is now the head coach at Tulsa. Roberts spent six years as the head coach at St. John's, where he went 81-101before he fired in March 2010. Roberts, a 1987 graduate of Queens College in New York City, spent a season working for the Big East Network before joining Billy Donovan's staff at Florida. Roberts has been an assistant under Self at four different schools. He was associate head coach at Kansas (2003-04) and an assistant at Illinois (2000-03), Tulsa (1997-2000) and Oral Roberts (1995-97). His return means he will be coaching his son, Niko, a sophomore guard for the Jayhawks.


Emerging Technologies Unleash New "Black Gold" Rush in Kansas

MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — Prospectors are punching holes across south-central Kansas, a gold rush-style hunt for oil and gas that players say could yield big returns not just for oil producers but also for the state's economy.  In county courthouses across much of Kansas, scores of researchers comb through dusty land records as producers and speculators alike scramble to snap up millions of acres of mineral rights. Leases which just three years ago went for $30 an acre are now fetching $3,000 an acre in drilling hotspots. Awe-struck real estate agents watch incredulously as mineral rights fetch higher prices than the land itself.  Drilling has only just begun. Barber and Harper counties are "ground zero" of an oil boom anticipated to spread north across a wide swath of the central Kansas prairie.


Critics Still Push Against KS Medicaid Overhaul

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Critics of Governor Sam Brownback's plan to overhaul the Medicaid program in Kansas aren't giving up on derailing a significant piece of it, even if they appear to be running out of time.  The conservative Republican governor's administration is considering bids from private insurance companies to manage the entire $2.9 billion-a-year program.  Brownback will reorganize three major state departments providing social services in July under an executive order that went unchallenged by legislators. When the Legislature returns April 25 from its spring break, it will be in the 74th day of its annual session, out of 90 scheduled.  Yet concerns about the overhaul haven't faded. Many advocates are determined to carve out services for the developmentally disabled and are drawing bipartisan support.


KU Sees Increase in Grad School Applications from India, China

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has had a steady increase in the number of graduate applicants from India and China. Thomas Heilke, dean of graduate studies at KU, tells The Lawrence Journal-World that applications for graduate study from India increased 20 percent from this time a year ago. He says similar applications from China went up by 7.4 percent. Charlie Bankart, assistant vice provost for international programs, said China, still is the country that sends the most international students to the University of Kansas. He said India had 270 students apply in 2012, while China had 872. Heilke said the overall increase in graduate international applications — up 9 percent from last year — is right in line with the national average.


KU Basketball Standout Thomas Robinson Declares for NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas star forward Thomas Robinson is declaring for the NBA draft and will forgo his senior season. Robinson made the formal announcement Monday, with coach Bill Self by his side. Robinson, the first unanimous first-team All-American since Blake Griffin, led the Jayhawks to the national championship game against the University of Kentucky, which the Jayhawks lost 67-59. He averaged 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game this season and led the nation with 27 double-doubles.


Vintage Carillon to Ring in Troubled KC Area

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A vintage electronic carillon, known as the Bells of Peace, could soon be ringing in one of Kansas City most troubled areas.  The collection of bells played from a keyboard first rang when the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City was rededicated in 1961.  Now, volunteers hope to install the instrument at St. Therese Little Flower Church, which is in the 64130 ZIP code. The Kansas City Star reported last year that the region had more convicted murderers than any other ZIP code in the state.  The plan is for the carillon to regularly serenade the neighborhood with its 405 "bells," which are actually brass rods. Volunteers have made progress but are still working to coax sound from a few of the rods.


KS Secretary of State Plans Archery Contest for Kids

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (KOH'-bahk) is planning an archery tournament for children later this month on the grounds of the governor's official residence.  The Ad Astra Archery Tournament is scheduled for April 21 at MacLennan Park in Topeka, which surrounds Cedar Crest, the governor's residence.  The tournament is open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Kobach, a hunter, says there will also be other activities, such as fishing in the ponds in the park.  The event also is being sponsored by Fort Hays State University and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The tournament takes its name from the state motto, "Ad Astra per Aspera," Latin for, "To the Stars Through Difficulty."


Central Indiana Hometown to Honor Slain Soldier

FRANKFORT, Ind. (AP) — A memorial service is planned in the central Indiana hometown of a soldier who died from injuries he suffered in Afghanistan. The service Tuesday at an American Legion hall in Frankfort will be on the one-year anniversary of when a sniper wounded Army Sergeant Jamie Jarboe. Jarboe died March 21 at the age of 27 after enduring more than 100 surgeries for injuries that left him mostly paralyzed. He was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas and his funeral was in Topeka. Melissa Jarboe tells The Times of Frankfort that her husband had asked for a separate service in his hometown. She says would like to hug all the Indiana veterans who supported him. Jarboe enlisted in the military after graduating from Frankfort High School in 2003.


KS Lecturer Immerses Students in Medieval Period

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka college instructor lecturer is taking unusual steps to bring the distant past alive for today's students.  Washburn University says students in Anthony Silvestri's Medieval Experience course wear academic robes to class. They also welcome their teacher in Latin and prepare for the next meeting by reading from a hand-bound codex chained to a library table.  Silvestri says it's all aimed at recreating the scholastic environment of the medieval period. Students debating whether it's lawful to overthrow a king used scripture and the writings of ancient philosophers to make their cases.  He says an education article he read 10 years ago encouraged him to try the new approach. Although it's more time- consuming, he says students will remember it "for the rest of their lives."


Exhibit Highlights Motorcycle Racing in Dodge City

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Dodge City has a storied place in American history as a 19th century frontier town and a stop on the old Great Western Cattle Trail.  But Dodge was also a center of motorcycle racing in the early 20th century, and the city will celebrate that story in May with an exhibit and series of programs at the Carnegie Center for the Arts.  The Dodge City Daily Globe reports that Carnegie director Summer Bates came up with the project after talking to local officials.  From 1914 to 1916, Dodge City was home of The Dodge City 300, considered the "race of the year" by motorcycle enthusiasts. The sport remained popular for decades afterward.  Items on display will include a several vintage motorcycles, including a 1929 Harley.




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