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Regional Headlines for Monday, October 1, 2012



UPDATE: Joint Chiefs Chairman Speaks at Kansas State University

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says he wants to increase the national conversation about war veterans and how they're treated and regarded in society.  General Martin Dempsey spoke Monday to a large audience of soldiers, faculty and students at Kansas State University. He said he believes the nation has a positive image of its military men and women.  But Dempsey says that after many years of war, it's important for veterans and the nation to talk about the role of those who have served, where they fit in society and whether they're regarded as heroes, victims or average citizens. Dempsey's speech was part of Kansas State's Landon Lecture series.


12 Ex-Lawmakers Seek Return to Kansas Legislature

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A dozen former Kansas lawmakers are trying to return to the Legislature in the November 6th general election. Most are Democrats, and half of them are former Democratic House members who lost their seats two years ago when conservative Republican Governor Sam Brownback swept into office. The group also includes Dennis McKinney, of Greensburg, who served 16 years in the House and became its minority leader before a two-year stint as state treasurer. He lost the treasurer's race in 2010. McKinney says he thinks voters will find his experience valuable. His Republican opponent in the 117th House District, John Ewy of Jetmore isn't daunted. Ewy says he respects McKinney but has garnered a lot of trust among voters himself as a lifelong resident of the area.


Calculation Error Found in State Assessments

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas education officials say the achievement gap between rich and poor and minority and non-minority students grew less this year than initially thought. The state Education Department issued a news release Monday blaming a mistake in calculating results of assessment tests.  The problem arose from how the state dealt with three districts that don't give their older students the standard state exam. McPherson, Clifton-Clyde and Kansas City, Kansas are using different tests after receiving waivers from the No Child Left Behind education law. Scores on the alternative exams were converted for use in calculating statewide results. But students from those three districts were counted twice. The department now says the gap in reading between black and white students grew by 3.1 percentage points, not 7.5 points as initially reported.


State of Kansas Sues to Stop Auction of 'In Cold Blood' Files

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas has sued the family of a deceased Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent who worked on the 1959 murders that became the subject of Truman Capote's crime novel "In Cold Blood." The lawsuit seeks to block the auction of Harold Nye's case files on the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb. Attorney General Derek Schmidt wants a judge to order their return and prohibit their sale, publication or distribution. Nye's son, Ronald, of Oklahoma City, gave the materials to Vintage Memorabilia to auction. The auction house is also named as a defendant. Schmidt contends the files belong to KBI and should not be auctioned for personal gain. They include notebooks and crime scene photos never before seen by the public. Ronald Nye did not immediately return a message Monday.

Speakers Rally in Topeka for Legalization of Pot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — About 100 people attended a weekend rally in Topeka to support legalizing marijuana. Topeka City Councilman Andrew Gray, a Libertarian, said during the rally Saturday outside the Statehouse that legalizing marijuana would open up a source of tax revenue and make available more diverse pain management options for patients. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Jon Hauxwell, a retired family physician from Hays, said he doesn't support legalizing the drug for young people whose brains are still forming. But he says denying patients access to marijuana for medication is "unconscionable."

KGS Rate Increase Request Differs from Recommendation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The rate increase that Kansas Gas Service is seeking is far higher than the amount staff at the Kansas Corporation Commission has recommended. The gas company is asking for a net increase of about $32 million a year, and KCC staff recommends the company get only $3.6 million. The Wichita Eagle reports that the recommendations are cited in documents filed last week. The gas company's proposal would raise the average customer's bill by $5.68 a month. The KCC proposal would boost those bills about one dollar. KGS spokeswoman Dawn Ewing says the company's still analyzing the KCC staff recommendations but believes its original proposal would result in fair and reasonable rates. The KCC's three commissioners serve as judges in rate cases and will make the final decision by January 14th.


KDOT Asking for Solutions to Possible Funding Reductions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ State transportation officials are crossing the state to discuss possible solutions to an expected reduction in funding for highway projects.  Kansas Department of Transportation officials visited with local government and community leaders in Salina, Hays, Dodge City and Hutchinson last week. Similar meetings are planned in Olathe, Topeka, Chanute and Wichita before October 11. The officials are discussing how to maintain funding in the face of declining revenue from the federal government and the state's motor fuel tax. The Hutchinson News reports the top three solutions chosen at last week's meetings included increasing the motor fuels tax; levying a tax on alternative fuels and imposing an extra annual registration fee on cars that run on alternative fuels or electricity.

UPDATE: Salina Police Officer Maimed in Standoff

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ A Salina police officer who was shot during a standoff last week lost sight in one eye. Deputy Police Chief Carson Mansfield says Officer Chuck Huen faces additional surgeries after being shot in the right eye during the standoff. Mansfield said the standoff began after officers responded to a report of a possible stolen car and/or domestic incident late Thursday. When they went into the home, they exchanged gunfire with 19-year old Marijon Gadson. Officers retreated and Gadson was later found dead in the basement. Mansfield says Gadson likely was dead for much of the six-hour standoff and it is likely he committed suicide. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is working with area police on the case.

Kansas Death Row Inmate Appeals Sentence

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ The Cowley County prosecutor says a response is planned to an appeal from a death row inmate convicted in the 2007 murder of a Cowley County student. Justin Thurber of Arkansas City filed the appeal with the Kansas Supreme Court in July, contending that several errors were made during his trial. Thurber was convicted in February 2009 in the death of 19-year-old Jodi Sanderholm, whose battered body was found in January 2007 in the Kaw Wildlife Area. The appeal contends several errors were significant enough to reverse the verdict.  The Arkansas City Traveler reports Cowley County Attorney Chris Smith said Friday that the Kansas Attorney General's Office has until April to file a response. He says a hearing on Thurber's appeal before the Supreme Court has not been scheduled.

Reservoir Releases Cause Concern Among Businesses

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas business owners say the release of billions of gallons of water from Kansas reservoirs this summer to support barge traffic on the Missouri River has hurt their reservoir-based businesses. The Army Corps of Engineers says, however, that a congressional mandate requires it to release water from the reservoirs so barges can navigate the Missouri River, which was considerably lower this summer because of the drought. Business owners along Perry, Tuttle Creek and Milford reservoirs, say the releases have dropped the lake levels so low that they can't support their businesses, like marinas. Tuttle Creek reservoir is six to seven feet below normal, and boat slips and docks are 15 feet below their normal spots. Milford State Park also had to shut down a number of boat ramps.


Writer and KPR Commentator Donates First-Edition Copy of 'In Cold Blood'

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A first-edition, autographed copy of "In Cold Blood" that was once found at an estate sale will be housed at Washburn University.  Tom Averill, the writer in residence at Washburn, donated the book to the university's Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection after it was given to him by a student.  The volume is autographed by Truman Capote, who wrote the book about the infamous 1959 killings of the Clutter family in Holcomb.  The book is also signed by six Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents and administrators who helped catch killers Richard Hickock and Perry Smith. The book was originally given by Capote to Maxine Manchester, who worked at the KBI from 1959 to 1967.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the value of the book has not been determined.

OP Mayor Says Open Carry Won't Change Suburb

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The mayor of the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park doesn't expect to see a lot of people walking around with firearms now that the Kansas City suburb's city council has approved an ordinance allowing open carry in public areas. Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach told The Kansas City Star that Wichita didn't see that happen when it adopted a similar ordinance in July. Overland Park's City Council passed the new law this week. It allows gun owners to openly carry firearms in public places if they keep the weapons in holsters with the safety engaged and within their immediate control. The law applies to all public places except buildings that have signs prohibiting weapons. The ordinance allows any legal gun owner to openly display a firearm in public.

Former Topeka Vicar Charged with Child Sex Crime

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A former vicar at a Lutheran church in Topeka has been charged with a child sex crime.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Hugh Cranford faces two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The charges were filed Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court.  No attorney is listed for Cranford in online court records.  Cranford, of Kingwood, Texas, was a student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He began his vicarage at Faith Lutheran Church in July 2011, but was suspended by Concordia Seminary in June. Seminary president Dale Meyer says the seminary acted immediately upon hearing about the allegations of misconduct. He also says the alleged incidents didn't take place at Faith Lutheran Church or Topeka Lutheran School.


Cause of Fort Riley Soldier's Death Sought

OGDEN, Kan. (AP) — Police in Riley County say foul play is not suspected in the death of a Fort Riley soldier at his home off the northeast Kansas post. WIBW-TV reports that a relative found 33-year-old Sergeant Duriel Powell not breathing Friday at his home in Ogden. Emergency medical personnel determined Powell was deceased.  Riley County Police Lieutenant Josh Kyle says there were no signs of foul play, and an autopsy will be conducted. Officials with the 1st Infantry Division say Powell was a field artillery radar operator. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation to Visit JCCC

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is scheduled to join a panel discussion on job training in northeastern Kansas. The event takes place Monday afternoon at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park. Others members of the panel include Kansas Secretary of Transportation Mike King and Matt Rose, chairman and CEO of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The U.S. Transportation Department says the discussion will focus on partnership opportunities aimed at designing job training to match skills with employer needs.

Banking Regulator with KC Ties to Speak at Westminster College

FULTON, Mo. (AP) — The former president of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City will speak Monday in Fulton on the future of banking. Thomas Hoenig's 4 pm lecture at Westminster College's Coulter Science Center is free and open to the public. Hoenig is now a director and vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the number two job at the independent Washington agency. Hoenig was president of the Kansas City Fed for 10 years before his high-level appointment in April. He joined the bank in 1975 as an economist and was also a vice president and senior vice president. He has been a vocal critic of big banks, and says he favors a restructuring of the country's banking system.

Topeka Neighbors Set Up Boxes to Exchange Books

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Residents in two Topeka neighborhoods are checking out books at Little Free Libraries. It's part of a national project to promote literacy by installing small boxes in people's yards that neighbors can use to take or donate books — all for free. The project is expected to expand in Topeka. Two groups are collaborating to build, paint and install 20 Little Free Libraries in the city by November. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the goal is to eventually have a free library installed in every zip code in Topeka. The effort is being led by Women Empowerment Incorporated and Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka. The groups are coordinating the building of the boxes and looking for volunteers to have them placed in their yards.

(You can hear KPR's September 14 report on this project at this link.)

Oil Rig Scam Defendants Set for First Court Date

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Seven men accused of cheating investors out of $132 million with false promises about companies that leased oil rigs are due in federal court in Wichita. Six of the defendants are from Kansas; the other is from Oklahoma. A federal grand jury indicted them in September on charges including of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. All of the men received summonses for first appearances Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Humphreys in Wichita. First appearances typically involve appointment of legal counsel and bond setting.


Sedgwick County Investigates Woman's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Sedgwick County authorities are investigating the death of a woman whose body was found in a ditch. A passerby found the body of 38-year-old Amber L. Kostner early Sunday in a ditch near Campus High School. A 41-year-old suspect was arrested and is being held at the Sedgwick County Detention Center. Investigators said Kostner and the suspect had been living together since late spring. The case will be presented to the district attorney's office for formal charges later this week.

Kansas Man Sentenced to Life for Quadruple Murders

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas City, Kansas man has been sentenced to life in prison for the 2009 shooting deaths of four people, including a 3-year-old girl. The Kansas City Star reports that 40-year-old Adrian W. Burks would have to serve 200 years before he could seek parole under the sentence imposed Monday in Wyandotte County District. Burks had pleaded no contest to four counts of first-degree murder in the June 2009 shootings at the Kansas City, Kansas home of 66-year-old James Warren. Besides Warren, the victims were 41-year-old Peggy Castleberry; her 3-year-old daughter, Juanita Castleberry Bess; and 21-year-old Amanda Remmers. Burks and Remmers had a previous relationship, and authorities said he had threatened her before the killings.

2 Killed in Separate Shootings in Coffeyville

COFFEYVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Coffeyville police are investigating two shootings over the weekend that left two people dead and two injured. Thirty-two-year-old James Logan of Coffeyville and 31-year-old Latrell Boyd of Pine Bluff, Arkansas died in shootings late Friday at an apartment complex. A 20-year-old Coffeyville man was treated and released for injuries from that shooting. Early Saturday, a second shooting left 39-year-old Anthony Wilson with non-life-threatening wounds. No arrests have been made. Police are looking for at least two people who are believed to be involved in the shootings. The KBI and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office are helping with the investigation.


KU Microbiologist Wins National Award

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A microbiologist at the University of Kansas has won a national award for his research into bacteria cells. Joe Lutkenhaus, a distinguished professor of microbiology, molecular genetics and immunology at Kansas, has been named one of three winners of Columbia University's 2012 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Lutkenhaus won the honor along with Richard Losick of Harvard University and Lucy Shapiro of the Stanford University School of Medicine. Columbia announced the awards last week. Lutkenhaus says his discoveries showed that bacterial cells are more similar to the larger cells found in plants and animals than scientists had known before. Of the 87 people to win the honor for research in biology and biochemistry, 42 have gone on to win a Nobel Prize.

KU Prof Co-Authors Book on Tenure, Motherhood

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas professor has co-authored a book about raising children while seeking tenure. "Academic Motherhood: How Faculty Manage Work and Family" tells the story of more than 100 women in a range of academic disciplines and institutions. Lisa Wolf-Wendel is a professor of educational leadership and policy studies professor at the University of Kansas. Her co-author, Kelly Ward, chairs the department of educational leadership and counseling psychology at Washington State University. Wolf-Wendel says one issue that makes academia unique is that faculty members only have a certain amount of time in their career to attain tenure. And that time often occurs as they are starting families. The book offers ways for institutions to help, including affordable day care and tenure stop clock policies.


Lawrence Building Tied to German-American History

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The purchase of Lawrence's oldest standing community building is raising interest in the city's German-American history.  Last week, the Lawrence Preservation Alliance bought the 1869 Turnhalle building. Lawrence historian Dennis Domer says at least 800 German-speaking residents lived in Lawrence in 1895, when the city had less than 10,000 residents. They had their own newspaper and strong influence in the city for years. The Lawrence Journal-World reports German-Americans began to retreat from their heritage after the start of World War I because of strong anti-German feelings in the country. The community center stopped taking members and eventually the building was sold. The preservation alliance hopes to restore the exterior and ensure the stability of the structure, and then sell it for a commercial venture.


Chiefs' Head Coach Sticks with Cassel at Quarterback

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Romeo Crennel is sticking with Matt Cassel for now. The Chiefs coach reiterated his stance Monday that Cassel will be the Kansas City Chiefs' starting quarterback when the Baltimore Ravens visit Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday. Crennel made the declaration unprompted in the minutes after Cassel threw three interceptions and the Chiefs turned the ball over six times in a 37-20 loss to the Chargers over the weekend. Cassel has thrown seven picks and lost three fumbles through four games this season, and many fans are starting to call for Brady Quinn to get a shot at the job. Quinn hasn't started a game since 2009 with Cleveland.

UMKC to Kick Off New Apparel Line This Week

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An updated version of the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Kangaroo mascot that was drawn by Walt Disney will be featured on a soon-to-be unveiled line of merchandise. A fashion show is planned to show off the new apparel and accessories during next week's homecoming festivities. The models will include Chancellor Leo Morton, Athletics Director Tim Hall and Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Bloch. Kansas City's zoo had acquired two baby red kangaroos in 1936 when two UMKC students suggested using the animal as the school's mascot. Support for the kangaroo as the school's mascot was cemented when Disney drew the cover image for a school humor magazine. It featured the kangaroo mascot alongside Mickey Mouse. Other homecoming highlights will include a block party.

Joint Chiefs Chairman to Speak at Kansas State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The nation's top military officer is appearing at Kansas State University to give the latest installment of its Landon Lecture series. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will speak Monday to students and faculty. Dempsey assumed the chairman position in October 2011 after serving briefly as Army chief of staff. Dempsey most recently served as commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1974. The Landon Lecture is named for Governor Alf Landon, a Republican who was Kansas governor from 1933 to 1937. Landon ran unsuccessfully for president in 1936, losing to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

**this story has been updated. Please see above.

Wounded Salina Officer Released from Hospital

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 38-year-old Salina police officer shot in the face has been released from the hospital. Salina police say Officer Chuck Huen was released from an Oklahoma City hospital Saturday, but he will require additional surgeries for injuries he sustained in the shooting late Thursday. Deputy Police Chief Carson Mansfield told The Salina Journal that Huen was shot by a Salina teen shortly after police entered a house while responding to a report of a stolen car. The shooting led to a six-hour standoff, which concluded with 19-year-old Marijon Gadson, found dead in the basement of the house early Friday. It's unclear how he died. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the shooting.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 


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