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Regional Headlines for Monday, March 25, 2013



Midwest Cleanup Begins After Spring Snowstorm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Few signs of spring are being found in parts of the Midwest as a snowstorm tracked mostly along Interstate 70, bringing heavy snow and high winds. The National Weather Service said parts of Colorado and northwest Kansas saw 10 to 15 inches of snow Saturday, and southwestern Nebraska had up to 7 inches. The system moved east Sunday, and central Illinois and Indiana could see up to 10 inches of snow through Monday morning. But the system didn't affect the NCAA men's basketball championships in Kansas City. North Carolina coach Roy Williams said it was "no distraction" before his team fell to the home crowd-backed Jayhawks, 70-58.


UPDATE: Kansas Budget Talks Set to Start Slowly

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A key Kansas lawmaker says it makes sense to settle what he calls broad differences between the House and Senate on tax policy before resolving budget issues. Senate Tax Committee Chairman Les Donovan said Monday he hopes to begin work on closing those issues with House counterparts in the coming days. But the Wichita Republican says having information from a new revenue estimate in April will be helpful in tax and budget debates. Both chambers completed work on their versions of tax and budget bills last week. The budgets cover fiscal years 2014 and 2015 and would spend $14 billion annually. The main difference between House and Senate tax bills is what to do with a temporary sales tax increase set to expire on July 1.


UPDATE: Kansas House Defeats School Choice Measure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has defeated legislation that would create a school choice scholarship program funded by corporate donations. House members voted 63-56 Monday against advancing the bill to final action. The measure would have let parents of low-income or special needs children in elementary or secondary grades apply for scholarships to send their children to private or parochial schools. Corporations would receive tax credits for contributions to a qualifying scholarship-granting organization. The program would have been capped at $10 million annually. Supporters said the proposal would give parents who might not otherwise afford it an alternative to sending their children to public schools. Opponents argued there were too many questions about the tax credit provisions and whether schools accepting the scholarships would be accredited.


Changes Proposed in Kansas Citizen Grand Jury Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill before the Kansas Legislature would change a state law that allows citizens to convene grand juries. Supporters say the current law is ineffective because prosecutors manipulate the grand juries to stop citizen complaints. Opponents say changing the law would politicize the grand juries. The Kansas City Star reports that the citizen grand jury was designed to let citizens pursue wrongdoing overlooked by prosecutors. But prosecutors control which witnesses are called. One of the proposed changes would require the person filing a petition to be the first to address the grand jury. Currently, no witnesses have to be called. Another change would allow anybody to file a written request with prosecutors or the grand jury foreman to testify before the grand jury.

Kansas House Shows Support for Keystone XL Project

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are urging the White House and the U.S. State Department to approve a permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas. The state's House of Representatives gave first-round approval Monday on a voice vote to a nonbinding resolution urging President Barack Obama and the State Department to approve permits to allow construction to begin. Federal approval is required because the pipeline crosses international boundaries. Opponents have delayed the project for four years over concerns that extracting oil from Alberta tar sands would increase global warming. The project was further delayed when Nebraska officials objected to the proposed route through the state. A recent State Department report raised no major objections to the project, which has already been constructed through Kansas.


Delaware Tribe May Move Headquarters to Kansas

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — The Delaware Tribe of Indians is considering moving the tribe's headquarters from Oklahoma to Kansas. Dee Ketchum, a former chief of the tribe, says it is looking for property in Kansas, focusing on Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties. He met with Leavenworth city officials last week. Ketchum says the tribe is not looking for land for a new reservation. It could use the new headquarters for several things, such as health care, housing and child care. The Leavenworth Times reports that Ketchum acknowledged  gaming could be part of an economic development effort. He says the move is being considered because of restrictions the Delaware Tribe faces at its current location, which is in the jurisdiction of another tribe. The Delaware Tribe of Indians has about 10,500 members.


New Equipment Approved for Use by Kansas Hunters

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Deer and turkey hunters in Kansas will be able to use more legal equipment during upcoming hunting seasons. The Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism says deer hunters will be allowed to use any center fire rifle or handgun cartridge when deer season starts in September. Previously, hunters had to use ammunition with at least a .23 caliber bullet. Also, any gauge slugs will be allowed starting in the fall. KFDI reports that the state also will allow anyone to use crossbows during archery season, and radio transmitters in arrows will be legal. Previously, only people under 15, older than 55, or with physical disabilities could use crossbows. Turkey hunters also will be able to use any gauge shotgun, starting in the spring turkey season.


Victim of Fatal Kansas Bridge Fall Identified

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified a man killed in a fall last week from a northeast Kansas bridge, but they're still investigating how it happened. The Kansas Highway Patrol on Monday identified 37-year-old William Bratton Jr., of Junction City, as one of three drivers involved in a crash on an icy Kansas 18 bridge over the Kansas River near Manhattan. The patrol says Bratton lost control of his pickup around 5:45 am Friday and struck another vehicle. Bratton's truck was then hit by a third vehicle. WIBW-TV reports that Bratton got out of his truck to check the damage and went off the bridge, landing on the rocky river bed about 30 feet below. The patrol says Bratton may have slipped, or may have jumped to avoid being hit by other vehicles.


Cause of Nickerson Fire Still Undetermined

NICKERSON, Kan. (AP) — Fire officials say they have not been able to determine what caused a fire that killed a central Kansas man and his daughter during the weekend. Nickerson fire chief Kenneth Burgess says the home was so badly damaged in the fire that the Kansas State Fire Marshal ruled the cause was undetermined. The Hutchinson News reports that George Danser and his 14-year-old daughter, Nikolle Danser, died in the fire Saturday morning at their home on Nickerson's main street.


Hot Lotto Drawings to Change in May

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Lottery says changes in the Hot Lotto this spring will mean bigger prizes but also reduce the chance of winning. Kansas lottery officials said in a news release that the prize for matching three balls will go up from $4 to $6; matching four will double from $50 to $100; matching four and the Hot Ball will increase from $500 to $3,000; and matching five balls, without the Hot Ball, will increase from $10,000 to $30,000. The lottery will pay all taxes for the grand prize, meaning the winner will receive the full jackpot. However, players will choose from 47 numbers, rather than the current 39. That will reduce the chances of winning the jackpot from 1-in-10.9 million to 1-in-29.1 million. The changes start May 12.


2 Charged in Kansas with Training Dogs for Fighting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal authorities in Kansas say they have broken up a multi-state dogfighting ring that included training pit bulls to fight in Kansas, Missouri and Texas. Pete Davis Jr. and Melvin L. Robinson were charged in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in the U.S. District Court for Kansas. Court documents say each man faces one count of transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture in interstate commerce. The complaint and other online court records don't list lawyers for either man. The complaint accuses the men of holding weekly dogfights in northwest Missouri, training the dogs at a Kansas City, Kan., residence, where the dogs were put on treadmills with live chickens used as bait. The complaint also says at least one dog was taken to Texas last weekend for fighting.


Woman Gets Prison Time in 'Total Identity Theft'

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An illegal immigrant accused of assuming a Texas teacher's persona has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Benita Cardona-Gonzalez pleaded guilty in January to possessing fraudulent identification documents in a deal with prosecutors. The Mexican national has been living in Topeka. Monday's sentencing was the first time Candida Gutierrez, the Houston elementary school teacher who was the victim in the case, saw Cardona-Gonzalez. The case put a face on the growing crime of "total identity theft" in the U.S. Gutierrez says she wanted her identity thief to see the person who paid the price for her living her dream. She says Cardona-Gonzalez's dream was her nightmare. For 12 years, Cardona-Gonzalez used Gutierrez's identity to get a job, credit, a mortgage, food stamps and medical care.


Longtime KC Broadcaster Walt Bodine Dies at Age 92

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Veteran radio and TV broadcaster Walt Bodine has died after a career spanning seven decades. His son, Marty, said Bodine was 92 when he died Sunday morning "after a long illness" at an assisted living facility in Prairie Village, Kansas. Bodine started in radio in 1940 on KDRO-AM in Sedalia. But Marty Bodine said his father soon was fired after mispronouncing the name of Yankee great Joe DiMaggio. He quickly found new work and went on to cover floods, tornadoes and the deadly Hyatt skyway collapse. Until retiring last year, he hosted a talk show at KCUR-FM. Bodine donated his body to the University of Kansas Medical Center. His family plans to have an open microphone memorial service. Bodine is survived by his five children. His wife, Bernadine, died in 2003.


Overland Park Mom and Son Injured in Falling Sign Incident Still Hospitalized

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ Officials say a mother of five who was crushed beneath a falling airport sign that killed her son is in serious condition at a Birmingham hospital. Witnesses say Heather Bresette and her children were walking past a large flight information display that fell away from the wall. It caught her, Sam, Tyler and 10-year-old Luke underneath. Luke was killed. Her 8-year-old son, Sam, is in Children's of Alabama in good condition. Five-year-old Tyler was released Sunday to the care of his father, Ryan Bresette, who wasn't injuried Friday at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. Two older siblings, Anna and Joe, weren't hurt. The renovated concourse opened March 13. Airport officials say they and their contractors are investigating what happened.

Analysis: Kansas Highway Programs Make Tempting Target for Budget Needs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three multibillion-dollar transportation programs have given Kansas good highways but also have created a regular source of rainy day funds during tough budget times. Borrowing funds from the Kansas Department of Transportation's highway, bridge and road maintenance projects has become common. Some legislators have nicknamed the state's transportation programs "the Bank of KDOT." This year is no exception. Republican Governor Sam Brownback and many members of the GOP-dominated Legislature want to position the state to eventually phase out personal income taxes. But they also have to stabilize the budget. Legislative researchers say Brownback has proposed diverting $510 million in highway funds over the next two years. The House wanted to increase that amount by $382 million over two years but backed off the idea amid heavy criticism.

Man Sentenced in 2007 Topeka Shooting Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man was sentenced to five years in prison for the death of a man who was shot when he opened the door to his Topeka apartment. A judge sentenced 31-year-old Andre Gill of Spring Hill on Monday for killing 27-year-old Sultan Malik Muhammad Jr. Gill had originally been charged with first-degree murder in Muhammad's death in January 2007. He pleaded guilty last month to involuntary manslaughter in a plea deal. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Muhammad was killed after opening the door to his apartment, where he was relaxing with his sister and best friend.


Top-seeded Jayhawks Survive, Advance in NCAA Men's Tourney

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The comparisons to the run the University of Kansas made to last year's Final Four have already begun. The Jayhawks, then a No. 2 seed, were pushed hard by No. 15 seed Detroit in their first game, and then were on the ropes against Purdue the next round just to survive the opening weekend. This time around, Kansas is the No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks got a stiff challenge from No. 16 Western Kentucky on Friday night, and then dug out of a nine-point hole to knock off eighth-seeded North Carolina and advance to the regional semifinals. The Jayhawks will face fourth-seeded Michigan on Friday night in Arlington, Texas, for the right to play in a regional final for the third straight season.


No. 9 Seed WSU Shockers Moving On in NCAA Tournament

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Cleanthony Early heard someone say before the start of the NCAA tournament that only about 30 percent of brackets filled out by fans had Wichita State winning its first game. The junior forward has just one question now: How many had the Shockers winning two? In a tournament that has given rise to the lower class, where double-digit seeds have become adept at knocking off the game's blue bloods, the ninth-seeded Shockers' upset of No. 1 seed Gonzaga has quietly put them in a position to make an improbable run at the Final Four. The Shockers (28-8) take on No. 13 seed La Salle on Thursday night in Los Angeles, and then would get sixth-seeded Arizona or No. 2 seed Ohio State for a spot in Atlanta.


Tebow Helps Wichita State Celebrate NCAA Victory

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University men's basketball team got an unexpected new fan when they arrived back home after their latest NCAA tournament victory. New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow's jet was refueling in Wichita when the Shockers' bus arrived Sunday after their upset win over top-seeded Gonzaga in the tournament. Tebow's representative asked coach Gregg Marshall if the Heisman Trophy winner could talk to the team. Tebow got on the team bus and told the players their surprising run to the Sweet 16 is something they will remember for the rest of their lives, regardless of what they do in the future. He also congratulated them and said they were an inspiration to many people. The Shockers play La Salle Thursday night in Los Angeles.


KC Mayor's Son Jailed on Probation Violation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The 24-year-old son of Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James is serving a 30-day jail term in Kansas for a probation violation. The Kansas City Star reports that Kyle James was booked into the Johnson County, Kansas jail Monday to start serving the monthlong sentence. Kyle James is serving probation in a 2009 driving-under-the-influence case. He had initially been granted diversion in the case, but his diversion was revoked in 2011, and he was placed on probation. Johnson County prosecutors filed to revoke the probation after James was charged in May in Kansas City, Kansas with disorderly conduct. The mayor's office referred comment to Kyle James's attorney. But the attorney who represented James on the DUI withdrew from the case and court records show no current lawyer for James.


Former Kansas City A's All-Star Pitcher Dies 

DETROIT (AP) — Virgil Trucks, who pitched two no-hitters in 1952 for the Detroit Tigers, has died. He was 95. The two-time All-Star died Saturday near Birmingham, Ala. He pitched in the major leagues from 1941-58, helping the Tigers win the World Series in 1945. "Fire" Trucks is one of five pitchers to throw two no-hitters in a season, according to STATS. He did it in a year the Tigers lost 104 games. Trucks went 5-19 with a 3.97 ERA in 1952, but he held Washington without a hit on May 15 and did the same to the New York Yankees on August 25. Trucks pitched 12 seasons for the Tigers and also had stints with the St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Athletics and Yankees.


Settlement Recommended in Wichita Officer Assault Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Wichita legal department is recommending that the city approve an $89,000 financial settlement with a woman who was sexually assaulted by a former police officer. The Wichita Eagle reports that the city council will consider the settlement agreement Tuesday. The woman has accused former officer Joseph T. McGill of sexually assaulting her in 2011. McGill pleaded guilty in January 2012 to sexual battery and was sentenced to three years' probation. McGill resigned after the charges were filed. The civil lawsuit alleges the city and the police chief were negligent in hiring McGill, and in allowing him to remain on active duty while an earlier assault allegation was under investigation. The settlement will be paid from the funds used to pay off cases the city doesn't want to take to trial.


WSU Center to Aid Human Trafficking Victims

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University is setting up a center to combat human trafficking. The Wichita Eagle reports that the center will train police, prosecutors, medical providers, faith groups and others in how to combat trafficking Its goal is to be an advocate for victims and reshape public policy on a national scale. Last month, the Kansas Board of Regents approved the center. The startup cost is estimated at $50,000 a year from the university, with the center also applying for grants. Its executive director is Karen Countryman. She was a teenager when her mother killed herself. Countryman later ran away from foster care. She made rescue her life's work after seeing sex traffickers abusing children on the streets.


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