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Regional Headlines for Monday, February 27, 2012

Police Say Man Shot at Officers During Standoff

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas man is in custody after a standoff with police that included shots fired at responding officers.  According to the Kansas City Star, Osawatomie police were told by family members around 9:30pm Saturday that a 31-year-old was intoxicated, heavily armed and possibly suicidal inside his home.  Police say the man, who has not been identified, fired several shots inside the home before police arrived, then shot at officers who responded.  Police spokesman Robert Butters says the man came outside several times and fired additional rounds.  Miami County tactical officers were evacuating people in the neighborhood when the man surrendered after speaking with a police negotiator.  He was being held in jail pending further investigation.


KC Teen Dies while in Detention Center Custody

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A medical examiner is scheduled to perform an autopsy to find out what caused a 16-year-old Kansas City girl to die in custody over the weekend.  The girl was found unresponsive at the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Facility Saturday afternoon and was pronounced dead at Children's Mercy Hospital less than two hours later.  County officials say the girl reported that she did not feel well just before noon Saturday, and that staff checked on her several times before finding her unresponsive around 1:30pm.  Authorities aren't saying what she had done to be held at the facility since February 10th.  Police say the girl's death is not being considered a homicide. A medical examiner is scheduled to perform an autopsy today (MON).


Sedgwick County Inmate Escapes from Jail

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An inmate who escaped from the Sedgwick County Jail is still on the loose.  Sedgwick County authorities say Sean P. McKenzie ran off Sunday night while taking out the trash.  McKenzie is a trustee at the jail who gets extra privileges for doing duties such as taking out the trash and cleaning.  McKenzie was in jail for property crimes and is not considered dangerous.  He is a white male, 5'11" and 175 pounds. He was last seen wearing a tan jumpsuit.


KS DA to Begin Interviews on Meetings with Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokesman for a northeast Kansas district attorney says his office plans to begin setting up interviews this week with legislators who had private meetings with Governor Sam Brownback at his official residence. Chief of State Lee McGowan said Monday that Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor's office has not started interviews because of its caseload. Taylor, a Democrat, is investigating the legality of seven meetings that the Republican governor had in January with GOP members of 13 legislative committees. Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene (SHUH'-reen) Jones-Sontag said the governor remains confident the meetings were legal. Legislators described them as informal dinners.  Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican, said if Taylor thought the investigation was important, he should have started interviews while lawmakers' memories were fresh.


Kansas Arts Funding Plan Advancing in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Supporters of the arts in Kansas say a proposal to raise additional revenue for the art programs will help... but won't replace state funding.  Last week, the Kansas House approved a plan to allow taxpayers to dedicate a portion of their annual returns as a donation for arts programs.  The check-off is intended to raise money to offset Governor Sam Brownback's decision last year to delete $689,000 in funding for the Kansas Arts Commission.  Four current check-offs use tax dollars to support programs related to breast cancer, military relief, Meals on Wheels and non-game wildlife. Combined, those four raised $415,511 last year.  Brownback has proposed spending $200,000 for arts programs in 2013, merging the arts and film commissions in one department.


KS Lawmakers Take Break after "Turnaround Day" Deadline

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have scheduled a short week of work to give themselves a long break after this year's session hit its official halfway point.  The Legislature did not convene Friday and isn't scheduled to meet today (MON) or tomorrow (TUE). The time off comes after last week's "turnaround" deadline, when most bills must pass the chamber in which they were introduced to be considered further.  Lawmakers don't meet most weekends during their annual session. Typically, they still receive their daily salary and expense payments and those days count against the 90 days their leaders have scheduled.  But with the long turnaround break, lawmakers declared themselves formally adjourned and cut off-their compensation, so the days don't count.  They've spent 46 days in session so far.


Former Cessna Mechanic Faces Sentencing for Thefts

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former aircraft mechanic, who fled to Equador after he was charged with selling stolen aircraft parts, has asked a federal judge for leniency. Diego Alejandro Paz Teran says his voluntary return to the United States to face charges shows remorse and a willingness to accept responsibility for the crime.  Paz Teran is scheduled for sentencing today (MON) before U.S. District Judge Monti Belot on a charge of interstate transfer of stolen property. The former Cessna Aircraft Company mechanic has admitted that for six months between 2008 and 2009, he stole aircraft parts from his employer and sold them on eBay.  His attorney, Kurt Kerns, told the court in a filing that his client panicked after he was charged and fled to Ecuador with his pregnant wife and two children in the summer of 2009. He spent two years on the lam.


Analysis: Regional Issues Flare-Up During Redistricting Debate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Regional differences are complicating a redistricting debate in the Kansas Legislature that already is contentious because of political tensions.  State senators are reviewing proposals for redrawing their districts in committee and huddling over maps in pairs and small groups. Some Republicans want to use redistricting to maintain the GOP's dominance, while some GOP conservatives worry about a bipartisan alliance cutting them out.  Enacting a Senate redistricting plan also is proving tricky because some rural senators are hoping to preserve their collective clout, despite population losses over the past decade.  If they're successful, they could keep Johnson County, in the Kansas City area, from gaining a senator, though it has gained by far the most residents over the past decade.


Salina May Change Discrimination Law, Adding Gender Identity to Protected Class

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina residents are discussing a proposal to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the city's discrimination ordinance.  The city council has delayed a decision on the proposal until three public hearings are held.  During an information meeting Sunday, a woman who was born as a man discussed the process she went through as she changed her gender.  Stephanie Mott, chairwoman of the Kansas Equality Coalition, said she wanted people to talk to someone who is transgendered in Kansas.  The Salina Journal reports some people at the meeting opposed the proposal. One of them, Cheryl Harp, said the current ordinance provides enough protection for everyone in Salina.  The ordinance would mean people can't be discriminated against in public accommodations, housing and employment. Some businesses and landlords would be exempt.


Man Dies in Kechi after Motorist Runs Over Him

KECHI, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says a 28-year-old man has been pronounced dead in Kechi after a woman called to report that she'd run over him. The sheriff's office says the woman called 911 to say she had run over a man later identified as Carson Shotton early Saturday. The female driver's name has not been released.


Comedian Bill Cosy Tells KC Teens: Stay in School!

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Comedian Bill Cosby told Kansas City teenagers that they should stay in school, study hard and stop making excuses. Cosby took center stage Friday to talk with several hundred students about a variety of issues during the 6th Annual Cosby/Goal Program at Ruskin High School. At a press conference with Kansas City Mayor Sly James, Cosby also said the black community needs to work to stop violent crime.


Fort Riley Soldiers Prepare for Deployment to Afghanistan

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — The 1st Infantry Division's headquarters is getting ready to leave Fort Riley and Kansas for a year in Afghanistan.  The deployment marks the second overseas duty for the headquarters unit since the division's flag returned to Fort Riley from Germany in 2006. The division staff spent a year in Iraq in 2010.  A ceremony is scheduled for March 7 at Fort Riley for a formal casing of the division's flag, signifying that it is deploying to combat. Staff and soldiers will be leaving Fort Riley in the following weeks.  The headquarters staff recently completed a readiness exercise involving 2,000 people to get ready for the Afghanistan mission.  Fort Riley is home to 18,000 soldiers and is located about 60 miles west of Topeka.


Higher Education Experiment Planned in Suburban KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Amid concerns that students are going into debt to earn degrees that aren't preparing them for jobs in emerging industries, a coalition of suburban Kansas City community leaders is planning an experiment to make college cheaper, quicker and more relevant.  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon wants to see the idea spread across the state.  Through the program starting this fall on a small scale, students will begin earning college credits and workplace experience while still in high school.  Over the next several years, businesses and classrooms will begin emerging on a nearly 100-acre expanse of land in Lee's Summit. Businesses locating at the so-called Innovation Campus will employ students as apprentices and help pick-up the cost for their education — either by paying them or contributing money for their tuition. When the students finish a bachelor's degree, ideally two to three years after high school graduation, the businesses will commit to hiring many of them.


George Strait Cuts KC Concert Short, Reschedules

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Country music star George Strait says he'll play in Kansas City next week to make up for a weekend concert he cut short because he was too sick to continue.  Strait made it through two songs Saturday night at the Sprint Center before telling the crowd he couldn't keep going because he was ill. The Kansas City Star reports the singer's voice was hoarse.  Many of the 18,000 in attendance stood and gave him a rousing ovation after they got over their initial disappointment.
Martina McBride opened for Strait with a one-hour set, and she says she will be back next Saturday to open for him again.  All tickets for the first show will be honored at the March 3rd concert.


Central KS Man Gets 50 Years for Killing Wife

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old central Kansas man has been sentenced to at least 50 years in prison for killing his wife. A judge sentenced Davin Sprague on Friday. The Saline County man was found guilty of first-degree murder last September in the death of his 28-year-old wife Kandi Sprague.


Trial Set for July for Man Involved in Police Standoff in Downs

OSBORNE, Kan. (AP) — A man who was shot after a standoff in north-central Kansas will go to trial in July.  Downs resident Matthew Thille will stand trial July 23 on four counts of attempted murder.  The 22-year-old Thille pleaded not guilty last week to charges filed after an eight-hour standoff March 21 in Downs. The standoff began after Thille ran from a Jewell County courtroom and led police on a chase from Mankato to Downs.  He was shot several times by Kansas Highway Patrol officers as he ran from the house. Prosecutors say he had a gun in his hand.  The Hays Daily News reports that the attempted murder charges were filed after Thille allegedly shot at officers during the chase and standoff.  Thille remains in the Osborne County Jail without bond.


Convicted Doctor Wants Judge to Let Him Practice Medicine Again

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An imprisoned Kansas doctor -- who admitted prescribing a painkiller to a woman he never met -- is getting a rare chance to prove his claim that his previous attorney provided ineffective counsel.  U.S. District Judge Monti Belot will hear arguments and evidence today (MON) in the case of Lawrence Simons, the Goddard physician who pleaded guilty in 2010 to unlawfully prescribing narcotics.  Simons is scheduled to complete his prison sentence on March 7. He wants the judge to remove the prohibition that keeps him from practicing medicine during his supervised release.  Simons also contends he is innocent and says his trial attorney misled him into pleading guilty.  Prosecutors pointed out Simons testified as to his guilt and admitted under oath he prescribed painkillers outside the course of medical practice.  


Fort Riley Nurse Gets Three Years for Stealing Morphine

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Riley nurse has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for stealing morphine from a Salina nursing facility.  U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says 25-year-old Melanie French Morrison pleaded guilty to one count each of consumer product tampering and alteration of a drug.  The Manhattan Mercury reports that Morrison took syringes from the medical room at Holiday Resort Nursing Facility, removed morphine from vials and replaced it with sodium chloride to hide the theft.  Grissom says Morrison took the syringes home and injected herself with the morphine.  A nursing director discovered in February 2010 that someone had tampered with multiple vials. She asked Morrison to submit to a urine drug test which showed the presence of opiates.


Topeka's Frito Lay Lays-Off Several Members of Management Team

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Frito-Lay says several members of management at its Topeka plant have been laid off.  A Frito-Lay spokeswoman has confirmed that the Topeka employees were affected by parent company PepsiCo's global layoffs announced on February 9th. The spokeswoman declined to say how many employees were being let go in Topeka.


Hutchinson Zoo Limits Wild Animals it Will Help

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — New state guidelines are prompting the Hutchinson Zoo to limit the types of wild animals it will help at its rehabilitation center.  The zoo says it won't take in deer, pigeons, starlings, raccoons or skunks.  The Hutchinson News reports the decision comes after the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism issued new guidelines on caring for wild animals.  Zoo director Jana Durham says most wild animals have a better chance of surviving in the wild.  And zoo curator Kiley Buggeln says safety is another concern. Many wild animals suffer from diseases such as rabies, distemper or roundworm.  Hutchinson is one of only four rehabilitation facilities in the state. The others are at zoos in Great Bend, Emporia and Salina.


National Park to Replace Plaque Related to Brown v. Board Decision

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The National Park Service says it will replace a plaque at a former Topeka elementary school after a community activist discovered it was missing.  Sonny Scroggins says he went to the school last week and found the placque designating the former Sumner Elementary School as a National Historic Landmark was gone.  The school was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 because of its role in the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case in 1954.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the school was closed in 1996 as part of a desegregation plan, and sold in January 2009 for $89,000.  


Fuller Brush Expects Few Changes in Bankruptcy

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Few changes are expected at the central Kansas headquarters of Fuller Brush Company following a bankruptcy protection filing that will let the company eliminate unprofitable products, a top executive said.  The 106-year-old company and its parent firm, New York-based CPAC Incorporated both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week in New York. Fuller Brush said its assets and debts both amount to between $10 million and $50 million.  Chief restructuring officer Larry Perkins told The Great Bend Tribune that bankruptcy protection will allow the struggling company to afford raw materials, cover salaries and pay the lease on its 123-acre site in the city.  All but five of Fuller's 185 employees work at the Great Bend headquarters, and Perkins said he does not expect any immediate changes in employment.


Man Gets 28 Years after Using Sister as Human Shield in Standoff

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man convicted of using his sister as a shield during a standoff with officers at a Hutchinson motel has been sentenced to nearly 28 years in prison.  Twenty-eight-year-old Deron McCoy Jr. was convicted last month on 12 counts, including aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, kidnapping and aggravated child endangerment.  The Hutchinson News reports that McCoy was sentenced Friday by Reno County District Judge Tim Chambers.  McCoy was arrested in March 2011 after a five-hour standoff that began when his former girlfriend came to pick-up their 7-month-old daughter at a Hutchinson motel room. Authorities testified McCoy held both the baby and his sister while pointing a gun at the sister and the officers trying to arrest him.


Man Who Attacked Women along KC's Trolley Trail to be Sentenced

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 24-year-old Kansas City man has pleaded guilty to attacking two women along a Kansas City walking trail.  The Jackson County prosecutor's office said in a statement Friday that James D. Kemp pleaded guilty to eight felony counts stemming from the attacks at or near the Trolley Trail in south Kansas City. The charges stem from separate attacks in June and July 2011.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 13. Kemp faces up to 30 years in prison on the charges, which include forcible sodomy, kidnapping and armed criminal action.


KU Student Dresses Up Like John Brown for Final Border Showdown

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Capturing the mood as well as anyone on a historic sports day was a KU student who came to the Kansas / Missouri basketball game dressed as John Brown. Decked out in 19th-century garb and with a thick beard dyed gray, Brian Duerksen did look eerily like the famed Kansas abolitionist Saturday, as he marked the passing of KU's 105-year-old "border war" rivalry with MU.  Playing before a sold out Saturday crowd in Lawrence, the 4th ranked Jayhawks topped the SEC-bound Tigers 87-86 in overtime.


Gay Rights Activist Chaz Bono to speak at NW Missouri State

MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Gay rights activist Chaz Bono is speaking next month at Northwest Missouri State University.  Bono, born Chastity Bono to musicians Cher and Sonny Bono, changed his gender through surgery and the court system. Bono has written three books and has discussed his transition in a documentary project that aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network.  During a March 7 appearance at Northwest, Bono will talk about gaining acceptance from his family and proceeding with his transition in the public eye. Bono also speaks about a range of LGBTQ issues, including marriage and transgender equality.  


K-State Researcher: Don't Rekindle Romance with Ex-Lover

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Rekindling romance with an ex may lead to stress and unhappiness.  That's the finding of a Kansas State University researcher. Assistant professor Amber Vennum found that with college-age students, about 40 percent are currently in cyclical relationships — the term used for couples who break up and then get back together.  Vennum found that couples in a cyclical relationship tended to be more impulsive than other couples about decisions such as moving in together or having a child together.  As a result, these cyclical couples tended to be less satisfied with their partner; had worse communication; made more decisions that negatively affected the relationship; had lower self-esteem; and had a higher uncertainty about their future together.  Vennum has advice for couples who have broken up: "Don't get back together."


 DA to Begin Interviews on Meetings with Gov

A spokesman for a northeast Kansas district attorney says his office plans to begin setting up interviews this week with legislators who had private meetings with Gov. Sam Brownback at his official residence. Chief of staff Lee McGowan said Monday that Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor's office has not started interviews because of its caseload. Taylor, a Democrat, is investigating the legality of seven meetings that the Republican governor had in January with GOP members of 13 legislative committees. Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene (shuh-REEN') Jones-Sontag said the governor remains confident the meetings were legal. Legislators described them as informal dinners. Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican, said if Taylor thought the investigation was important, he should have started interviews while lawmakers' memories were fresh.



Ex-police chief to lead KC diocese review board 

Retired Kansas City police chief James D. Corwin has been appointed chairman of a board dealing with sex abuse allegations in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese. The diocese announced in a news release Monday that Corwin will succeed Jin Caccamo, who resigned in early February from the Independent Review Board. The seven-member board assesses child sexual abuse allegations and makes recommendations to the bishop on how they should be handled. The board works with an ombudsman, who investigates reports of sexual misconduct by clergy, employees or volunteers in the diocese. Corwin takes over at a time when a diocese priest, Rev. Shawn Ratigan, has been charged with child pornography and Bishop Robert Finn has been indicted for allegedly failing to report suspected child abuse.

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