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Regional Headlines for Monday, November 5, 2012


KS Officials to Discuss Disabled Waiting List

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two top officials in Governor Sam Brownback's administration are preparing to make an announcement about the waiting list faced by hundreds of physically disabled Kansans seeking in-home services.  Lt. Gov. Jeff Coyer and Aging and Disability Services Secretary Shawn Sullivan are holding a Statehouse news conference today (MON).  The administration didn't provide any details.  Advocates have filed complaints based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states must provide services to people with disabilities. Earlier this year, negotiations broke down between the Brownback administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and HHS forwarded the waiting list complaints to the Justice Department.  Sullivan told legislators in September that the state is trying to clean up the waiting lists to determine who still needs services.


KC Man Killed while Trying to Walk across I-35

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man whose car broke down on Interstate 35 near Liberty, Missouri is dead after being hit by a car while trying to cross the highway.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol says 41-year-old David Ellis had car trouble around 7:30 Saturday night while driving north on the interstate, just south of the Missouri 152 exit.  The patrol says Ellis walked about 100 yards along the side of the road before trying to cross the northbound lanes of the highway and being hit by a card driven by a 45-year-old Kansas City woman. Investigators say his body was tossed into the air and landed in the median.  KSHB-TV reports there were at least two subsequent crashes after Ellis was hit, tying traffic up on the highway for hours.


Medicaid Expansion Issue in KS Legislative Races

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's allies have raised the potential expansion of the state's Medicaid program as a campaign issue in the days before Tuesday's election decides races for the Kansas Legislature.  It comes as conservative Republicans try to bind Democrats to President Barack Obama and the federal health care overhaul. It's a tactic that's worked in GOP-leaning Kansas.  Many Kansas Republicans are skeptical of the federal law's promise to fund the expansion because of Washington's ongoing budget problems.  Retiring House Speaker and conservative Hutchinson Republican Mike O'Neal says voters need to know whether legislators and candidates would support an expansion.  But Democrats aren't openly embracing a Medicaid expansion. They contend the state can't seriously contemplate any additional spending because of massive income tax cuts enacted this year.


Former Dodge City Officer Sentenced to Life

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Dodge City police officer has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 25-year-old woman.  Christopher Tahah was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 20 years. The Dodge City Globe reports that Tahah was convicted in September of felony first-degree murder in the 2007 death of Erin Jones in her Dodge City home.  Tahah was first convicted in 2008 of first-degree murder in Jones' death. But the Kansas Supreme Court threw out the conviction last year, saying the jury should have been allowed to consider lesser charges, including involuntary manslaughter.  Ford County District Judge Leigh Hood also sentenced Tahah to a consecutive 8 1/2-year sentence for criminal discharge of a firearm in an occupied dwelling.


Two KS Lawmakers Favor Parole for 2-Time Killer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas legislators are urging state corrections officials to parole a convicted killer serving a life sentence for murdering a 75-year-old Topeka woman 31 years ago.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports there may be others in the Legislature who believe that 63-year-old Ormond Wimberly Junior is ready to re-enter society. But the Department of Corrections isn't releasing that information.  Wimberly was convicted of the 1981 death of Sarah Woody, who was shot five times during a robbery. Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor — who adamantly opposes Wimberly's release — says the inmate already was on parole for a previous murder when he killed Woody.  Republican Rep. John Grange and Democratic Senator Oletha Foust-Goudeau wrote letters last month to the Prisoner Review Board in favor of granting Wimberly parole.


Teen Burglar Must Apologize to Kansas Churches

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 16-year-old serial burglar who targeted Hutchinson churches has been ordered to apologize in person to the six congregations he victimized.  The Hutchinson News reports the apologies are part of the sentence imposed Friday by Reno County District Judge Tim Chambers against Joshua Hickey.  Prosecutors charged Hickey as an adult after he and three older defendants were arrested in August for a string of thefts and break-ins around Hutchinson from early April to late July. Hickey avoided trial by pleading guilty in October to 38 counts, including 19 felonies.  Investigators said Hickey broke into a half-dozen churches, hitting some of them twice.  Besides ordering the apologies, the judge also placed Hickey on two years' probation. Violations could send him to jail.


KS Board of Regents Considers "Post-Tenure" Reviews

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents is considering requiring the state's six universities to conduct periodic reviews of tenured faculty.  Board of Regents Vice Chairman Fred Logan says the "post-tenure" reviews would assess how professors are performing, perhaps every five years. He said the regents could approve the policy at their December meeting.  Andrew Torrance, a law professor who is Faculty Senate president at the University of Kansas, says most faculty members would not object to the proposal, if it is not done only to be punitive.  Logan said the policy would not weaken tenure protections, and faculty would be involved in planning the post-tenure process.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Logan doesn't think the policy would be implemented until at least next year.


Man Bites Police Officer after Shocked with Taser

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 35-year-old man bites a police officer while being arrested after police used Tasers to subdue him for refusing to drop a knife at a Wichita bar.  The Wichita Eagle reports police were called to The Place bar at 1:25 Sunday morning and found the man with a knife. Police spokesman Sergeant Scott Brunow says officers ordered him to drop the knife, but he refused.  Police say the man bit a police officer in the hand while he was being arrested. A 42-year-old man who tried to help the suspect, and a 34-year-old woman who tried to get other bar patrons to join in the altercation, also were arrested.


Children's Mercy Hospital in KC Bans Soda Pop from Machines

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City children's hospital says it plans to ban soda and sugar-filled juices from its vending machines, the cafeteria and gift shop.  Officials at Children's Mercy Hospital say the move is aimed at fighting childhood obesity. It will take effect in January.  Karen Cox, the hospital's executive vice president, says employees and visitors will be able to bring in their own surgary drinks, but the drinks won't be sold at the hospital.  Hospital administrators say Children's Mercy is the first hospital in the Kansas City metro region to implement such a ban.  The Kansas City Star reports that the ban is part of the Partnership for a Healthier America, a national program focusing on eliminating childhood obesity.


Minimal Damage after Fire at Hutchinson Prison

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — No injuries and minor damage were reported after a fire at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility.  The fire Sunday evening was reported in D Cell House Sunday evening.  Prison spokesman Dirk Moss says the cause is under investigation.  Battalion Chief Doug Hanen says the fire occurred in a restricted area where plumbing and cables are contained. Crews extinguished the fire within 10 minutes.  Prisoners were moved to the prison yard when the fire was reported but returned to the cell block after the fire crews left.  This is the second fire at the facility in the past month. An inmate was treated for smoke inhalation after a fire in his cell in October. No one else was injured.


KS Parties Make Last Push on Legislative Races

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republicans and Democrats are making their final push to woo voters in hot races for the Kansas Legislature. Voters had until noon Monday to cast ballots in advance at local election offices, with polls set to open across the state at 7 a.m. local time Tuesday. Secretary of State Kris Kobach is predicting that 1.2 million people will vote, 68 percent of those registered. The most closely watched races are for state Senate seats, where GOP conservatives are hoping to gain a solid majority by ousting several Democratic incumbents. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce has sent multiple mailings trying to tie Democrats to President Barack Obama and the federal health care overhaul. Meanwhile, Democrats have made GOP Gov. Sam Brownback and massive income tax cuts he championed their biggest issue.


KS Dems Put $96K in Legislative Races in 2 Days

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new campaign finance report shows that the Kansas Democratic Party spent nearly $96,000 in only two days to help legislative candidates during the final days before Tuesday's elections. The report filed by the party with the secretary of state's office shows that the mailings helped Democrats Kyle Russell of Roeland Park and Lisa Johnston of Overland Park in their campaigns for open Kansas Senate seats in Republican-leaning Johnson County. Their mailings cost the Democratic Party more than $22,000 on Thursday and Friday. The party spent about $73,000 on mailings for 18 House candidates during the same two days. Democrats contend they need such aggressive efforts to counter mailings by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, which has spent more than $400,000 boosting GOP candidates.


Kansas Turnpike Rates to Increase Next Year

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Drivers on the Kansas Turnpike will start paying more on Feb. 1. The Kansas Turnpike Authority announced Monday that cash rates for cars and light trucks will increase an average of 10 percent. Rates for K-TAG users will increase an average of 5 percent. Drivers of large commercial vehicles will pay about 5 percent more, whether they pay cash or use the electronic K-TAG. The Turnpike Authority said in a news release Monday the increased revenue will pay for future capital needs, including deck replacements for some of the turnpike's 348 bridges. No tax dollars are used to maintain the turnpike.


Fake War Hero Sentenced in Kansas for Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A western Missouri man who lied about being a disabled war hero to get federal contracts has been sentenced to prison in Kansas. The U.S. Attorney's office says 70-year-old Warren Parker, of Blue Springs, Mo., was sentenced Monday to slightly more than seven years. Parker pleaded guilty in April to numerous counts, admitting he lied to secure more than $7 million in government contracts under a program designed to help small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Parker claimed he served in Vietnam and earned three Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts. In fact, authorities say, he never left Missouri while serving as a National Guard mechanic from 1963 to 1968. Three co-defendants await trial along with Parker's company, Silver Star Construction, which operated in Missouri and Stilwell, Kan.


Vandals Hit Vehicles, Stores in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Topeka are investigating a rash of vandalism to vehicles, businesses and mailboxes over the weekend. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports police received at least 25 reports of vandalism from Friday night through Sunday morning. Most of the incidents occurred on the city's west side. Nearly 20 vehicles had windows, windshields and rearview mirrors damaged. Someone shot out the windows at three stores, including a Payless ShoeSource. And at least one residential mailbox was damaged.

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