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Regional Headlines for Monday, June 11, 2012






Feds Accuse Former Executive at KS Firm with Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former executive of a Kansas high-tech company has been charged with defrauding the United States by creating false invoices on government contracts to help the struggling firm.  Aaron Madison was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Manhattan-based NanoScale, a small company that makes advanced chemistry products. Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint today (MON) in federal court in Wichita charging Madison with wire fraud.  Prosecutors say 90 percent of the firm's business came from government contracts, most with the Defense Department.  The government alleges that between 2009 and 2011 Madison manipulated contract costs. Prosecutors also contend he falsified invoices to meet payroll and other costs when NanoScale owed creditors more than $500,000.  Madison did not immediately return a phone message.  NanoScale declined comment.


Finance Expert Testifies in KS School Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The second week of a trial over the way Kansas funds public schools has opened with testimony from a Rutgers University expert on the subject.  Bruce Baker, formerly of the University of Kansas, was the first witness called today (MON) by lawyers for school districts that filed suit in Shawnee County District Court. The districts contend they get don't enough money to satisfy the state constitution's mandate for providing a "suitable education."  Baker testified it's not enough that students achieve proficiency on standardized math and science tests. He says Kansas has to ensure they graduate with the skills to succeed in higher education or in the labor force.  Baker also said some districts need additional resources to make sure students with special academic needs don't require remedial courses later in school.


UPDATE!  KS Legislature to See Big Changes from Elections
Candidates Scrambled to Meet Monday's Noon Filing Deadline

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Big changes appear in store for the Kansas Legislature now that the state's candidate filing deadline has passed.  Dozens of newcomers filed for legislative seats before today's (MON) noon deadline, and several legislators opted not to run again. Also, several Kansas House members launched campaigns for the state Senate.  The flurry of activity meant six of the 40 Senate seats have no incumbent running, and 43 of 125 House seats are open.  But new political boundaries that reflect population changes over the past decade also mean that in two Senate districts and at least 10 House districts, incumbents will be running against incumbents.  Three federal judges drew new lines for congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts last week because the Legislature failed to do the job.


State Rep. Brenda Landwehr Drops bid for KS Senate Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Kansas state Rep. Brenda Landwehr has dropped her bid to unseat moderate Republican Sen. Jean Schodorf after being drawn out of Schodorf's district in Wichita.  Landwehr filed for re-election today (MON) to her House seat. After three federal judges adjusted the state's political boundaries last week, Landwehr is located in a district with Rep. Nile Dillmore, a Wichita Democrat.  Landwehr has served in the House since 1995, and she announced months ago that she intended to challenge Schodorf in the Republican primary. Schodorf has served in the Senate since 2001.  But the Legislature failed to adjust the state's political boundaries this year to account for shifts in population, leading to a lawsuit. The judges then drew the lines themselves.  Landwehr said she likes living in her current house and wouldn't move.


KS House Member Moves to New City to Run Again

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — A freshman conservative Republican in the Kansas House says she's moved to another city to run for re-election, avoiding a potential primary contest with another GOP conservative.  Rep. TerriLois Gregory lived in Baldwin City when she was elected in the 10th District of northeast Kansas in 2010. The district included part of Douglas County and neighboring Franklin County to the south.  But three federal judges hearing a political redistricting lawsuit adjusted House districts last week to account for shifts in population over the past decade.  The new 10th District now includes the Eudora home of Rep. Anthony Brown, who was first elected in 2004.  Gregory announced Saturday that she moved to Ottawa, now outside the 10th District, and registered to vote there to run for the open 59th District seat.


Airbus: No Interest in Boeing's Wichita Facility

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A top official at Airbus says the Boeing Company's decision to close its Wichita plant will likely have a favorable impact on Airbus operations.  Airbus Americas chairman Allan McArtor commented today (MON) during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Airbus' engineering center in Wichita. The Airbus center had 27 employees when it first opened and now employs more than 350 people.  McArtor says he expects Airbus to get some good employees from Boeing's closed defense plant.  Boeing announced earlier this year that will shut down its Wichita operations by 2013 and send work to plants in three other states. Boeing employs 2,160 people in Wichita, where it has been a major employer for generations.  Airbus officials say it has no interest in Boeing's Wichita facility.


Dems Select Delegates, Praise New Maps

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democrats from across Kansas gathered for the party's 2012 state convention and completed delegate selection for the national convention this September in North Carolina.  Dakota Loomis, spokesman for the party, told the Topeka Capital-Journal that much of the weekend convention in Topeka centered on completing the delegate selection process with more than 50 candidates running for eleven at-large spots. The Kansas Democratic State Committee elected six women and five men to attend the national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.  In addition to the eleven at-large delegates, the state committee also chose five party leaders and elected official delegates. A committeeman and committeewoman also were selected.  Joan Wagnon, Kansas Democratic Party Chair, also said the recently redrawn state election maps have "energized Kansas Democrats."


Kansas AG Pays $644K to Defend State Abortion Laws

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas attorney general's office paid outside lawyers more than $644,000 to defend anti-abortion laws enacted last year.  The office says it paid more than $328,000 as of Friday to Foulston Siefken, a Wichita law firm helping defend a budget provision denying federal dollars for non-abortion services to Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood has filed a federal lawsuit against the measure.  The attorney general's office paid more than $200,000 to Thompson, Ramsdell & Qualseth, of Lawrence, to help defend health and safety regulations for abortion providers. Kansas City-area physicians challenged the rules in federal court and then in state court.  The same law firm also received more than $116,000 for work on a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against a law restricting private insurance coverage for elective abortions.


KS Gov to Speak at National Anti-Abortion Event

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is scheduled to address the closing banquet of a national anti-abortion group's convention later this month.  The National Right to Life Committee says Brownback will speak June 30, the final day of the three-day gathering in Arlington, Virginia.  Brownback had a strong anti-abortion voting record in the U.S. Senate.  As governor, he has signed measures tightening limits on late-term abortions, restricting private insurance coverage for elective abortions and imposing health and safety regulations specifically for abortion providers.  He has also signed bills to impose tougher parental consent rules when minors seek abortions and to deny funds to Planned Parenthood.


Public Hearings Set on KS Medicaid Overhaul

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials will hold two public hearings this month on Governor Sam Brownback's plan to overhaul the state's $2.9 billion-a-year Medicaid program.  The hearings are scheduled June 18 in Wichita and June 20 in Topeka, ahead of the submission of a revised request for a federal go-ahead of the overhaul.  Medicaid is funded jointly by states and the federal government to provide health coverage for the poor, disabled and elderly.  Kansas plans to turn the management of its Medicaid program over to three private health insurers but needs the federal government to waive some rules.  The state applied for a waiver in April. It later discovered it hadn't notified two Indian health clinics of its plans and wanted to solicit their comments.


New KS Law Bans Possession of E-Cigarettes by Young People

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Minors already weren't allowed to smoke real cigarettes in Kansas, and as of July 1 they won't be able to smoke the electronic ones, either.  Governor Sam Brownback recently signed the bill that bans minors from possessing e-cigarettes. Some companies that sell the electronic versions say they already limited sales of the device to people 18 and older, so the law won't have any impact on their business.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that school resource officers in Leavenworth County expressed concerns about students who possessed the electronic cigarettes, including some that were designed to look like pens or flash drives.  State Alcohol Beverage Control director Doug Jorgenson says the e-cigarettes emit nicotine that can become just as addictive for young smokers as the real thing.


Western Kansas Seeing Continuing Growth in Dairies

REXFORD, Kan. (AP) — Dairy operations continue to prosper in western Kansas, boosting the state to 17th in national milk production rankings. The state agriculture department says it expects Kansas to be in the top 15 after this year. That's thanks largely to western Kansas, which produces nearly 70 percent of the milk in the state. More than 300 dairies operate throughout Kansas, ranging in size from fewer than 250 cows to 12,000. The Salina Journal reports that on Wednesday, the McCarty Family Farms Dairy near Rexford in northwest Kansas will celebrate a direct marketing deal with yogurt maker Dannon. The agriculture department says operations like the McCartys' create jobs and help stabilize towns across western Kansas. The department says that, in general, every 80 to 150 cows require one dairy employee.


Central KS Man Drowns at Kanopolis Reservoir

KANOPOLIS, Kan. (AP) — A 41-year-old Lyons man has drowned at a central Kansas lake.  Ellsworth County Sheriff Tracy Ploutz says John Freeman III drowned Saturday at Kanopolis Reservoir. Ploutz said Freeman had been at a lake campground with a friend when he went for a swim. The sheriff says people at another campsite then found Freeman's s body at a nearby beach.  The Hutchinson News reports that an autopsy has been planned.  


Vanity Plates Lead Police to KS Robbery Suspects

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say personalized license plates on a getaway car helped lead to two Wichita men accused of robbing a fast-food restaurant.  The U.S. Attorney's office says 49-year-old James Adamson and 55-year-old Paul Sifuentez are both charged with one count each of robbery and using a firearm in a violent crime.  Prosecutors say Sifuentez demanded money at gunpoint Thursday from a Kentucky Fried Chicken, then fled in a car with the personalized tag "SAVOY" registered to Adamson.  Wichita police said two officers stopped the vehicle and were met with gunfire that shattered a window on the squad car. Neither officer was hit.  


Ohio Woman Killed in KS Crash

ELLSWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A 52-year-old Ohio woman has been killed in a weekend crash in central Kansas.  The Salina Journal reports that Janine J. Reed of Minerva, Ohio, was killed when the car she was in rolled on Interstate 70 near Ellsworth on Saturday afternoon.  The Kansas Highway Patrol said Reed was not wearing a seatbelt.


Annie Oakley's Gun Fetches $143,400 at Auction

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A shotgun that once belonged to Western sharpshooter and entertainer Annie Oakley has sold for more than $143,000 at an auction in Dallas.  Heritage Auctions says the trove of about 100 of the legend's items headlining its "Legends of the Wild West" event Sunday brought in nearly $520,000.  The items included several guns, Oakley's Stetson hat, photographs and letters. They were put up for auction by Oakley's great-grandnieces, who inherited them from their mother who died in 2009.  Oakley's Parker Brothers 12-gauge shotgun garnered the highest price at $143,400.  Oakley became famous in the 1880s and 1890s as a sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. She died in 1926 at the age of 66.


KS Teen Candidate for National Honor

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence teenager is among five candidates for National Youth of the Year, an honor administered by the Boys and Girls Club of America.  The Lawrence Journal World reports that 18-year-old Trei Dudley could earn a $50,000 scholarship with the award. She's the first Kansas resident to be a finalist for the national award.  The National Youth award honors youth who have overcome odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments.  Dudley was named Southwest Region Youth of the Year in Dallas on Tuesday after winning local and state competitions. She's also a staff member for the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrence, where she hopes to have a positive influence on youth.


Defense Wants Charges Dropped Against Coach Accused of Sex Crimes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The defense attorney for a former south-central Kansas high school football coach charged with child sex crimes is seeking to have the charges against his client dismissed.  The Wichita Eagle reports that defense attorney Dan Monnat filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Todd Puetz, who was charged last November with electronic solicitation, attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child and attempted criminal sodomy.  Prosecutors accuse Puetz of trying to entice a child he believed to be 15 into sex acts. Monnat has entered a not guilty plea for Puetz, who coached at Garden Plain.  The defense motion says an undercover detective entrapped Puetz and that he didn't solicit anyone. He is scheduled to stand trial August 6.


Feds Seek Prison for Former KS Public Official

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors are urging a federal judge to sentence to prison the former public works director who stole a bulldozer, tractors and other heavy equipment from Barber County.  Steven Collier has pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from Barber County in 2010 and agreed to pay $116,310 in restitution. He sought probation, saying he stole because of a so-called toxic extramarital affair with a "manipulative" woman.  But prosecutors in a filing this week asked the court to sentence him at the low end of the 12 to 18 months recommended under sentencing guidelines. They cited the duration of the thefts and their planning.  The government also noted five extramarital affairs, including one after his indictment. They said while some money went to his ex-girlfriend, most went to the Colliers.


Wichita Gangs Using Social Media to Recruit, Organize

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say gang members have been using social media to organize, recruit members and just to get their messages out.  Detective Chad Beard of the Wichita Police Department's gang and felony assault unit says gangs like the Crips and the Spanish Gangster Disciples have their own Facebook fan pages and have been posting pictures of social events, adding friends and commenting on posts.  Police say monitoring the social media activity of known and suspected gang members has become a key component of tracking gang activity and the sites can also provide police with useful information.  The Wichita Eagle reports that police say the move to social media has also apparently led to less graffiti around Wichita.


Franklin County Opening $3M Juvenile Facility

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — Franklin County's new $3.2 million Juvenile Detention Center in Ottawa is scheduled to open next weekend.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the new facility can house up to 14 juveniles and opens June 16.  Ethel Wallace, center director, said the center will handle juveniles ages 10 to 17 from Franklin, Anderson and Osage counties and replaces a former center that had only seven beds and lacked space for other programs.  County commissioners approved a bond to build the 18,000-square-foot facility.


Western KS Seeing Continuing Growth in Dairies

REXFORD, Kan. (AP) — Dairy operations continue to prosper in western Kansas, boosting the state to 17th in national milk production rankings.  The state agriculture department says it expects Kansas to be in the top 15 after this year. That's thanks largely to western Kansas, which produces nearly 70 percent of the milk in the state.  More than 300 dairies operate throughout Kansas, ranging in size from fewer than 250 cows to 12,000.  The Salina Journal reports that he McCarty Family Farms Dairy near Rexford in northwest Kansas now has a direct marketing deal with yogurt maker Dannon.  The agriculture department says operations like the McCartys' create jobs and help stabilize towns across western Kansas. The department says that, in general, every 80 to 150 cows require one dairy employee.


Fort Riley Plans Ceremony to Honor Soldiers' Kids

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Fort Riley has planned a special ceremony to honor the children of fallen soldiers.  Fort Riley officials say its fourth Ceremony of Remembrance will be tomorrow (TUE) evening
and will be part of Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division's Victory Week celebration.  The fort will present 14 children with a medal during the ceremony, which will be held at the Calvary Parade Field.


KC Modern Art Museum Names New Director

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City has named a new director.  The Kansas City Star reports the appointee is Barbara O'Brien, who had been serving as the chief curator and director of exhibitions and collections. As director she replaces Rachael Blackburn Cozad, who left the post three weeks ago.  O'Brien has been a curator at the Kemper since 2009. She was previously an assistant professor of art at Simmons College in Boston, where she was also director of the college's Trustman Art Gallery and head of its arts administration program.


This story has been updated, above.

KS Officials Expecting Scramble to File by Candidates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials were expecting a scramble by candidates for office in the final hours before filing ends.  The filing deadline is noon today (MON) — less than four days after three federal judges redrew the state's political boundaries.  The judges ruled last week in a federal lawsuit over the Legislature's failure this year to adjust congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts to account for population shifts over the past decade.  The ruling reset the state's political landscape. It created four newly open state Senate seats, out of 40. In the House, 25 of the 125 seats have no candidates.  The judges also paired dozens of incumbent lawmakers in four Senate districts and 21 House districts. The judges even created two House districts with three incumbents each.


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