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Regional Headlines for Monday, October 15, 2012



Softbank to Buy 70 Percent of Sprint for $20 Billion

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo-based mobile carrier Softbank Corporation has reached a deal with SprintNextel to acquire 70 percent of U.S. wireless company Sprint for $20.1 billion. It's the largest-ever foreign acquisition by a Japanese company. The deal was announced Monday at a joint news conference in Tokyo by Softbank President Masayoshi Son and Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse. The deal, approved by the boards of both companies, still needs approval from Sprint shareholders and U.S. regulators. Softbank said the deal is expected to be completed by the middle of next year. The deal will bring together the third biggest mobile carriers of both Japan and the U.S., underlining the growth ambitions of Softbank.


Analysis: Kansas Education Funding Debate Hitting Key Issues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Democrats have made funding for public schools a major issue in legislative races, highlighting key differences between them and Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Democrats are criticizing Brownback and his conservative allies over massive income tax cuts enacted this year, suggesting they'll create big budget problems. They contend the tax cuts will force the state to dramatically reduce aid to public schools. Brownback sought to undercut the criticism in a news conference, arguing the tax cuts will spur economic growth that will allow the state to boost school funding. The back-and-forth showed how Democrats see increased spending on public schools as a much higher priority than tax cuts, while Brownback and his allies have made reducing income taxes to stimulate the economy their main emphasis.

GOP Senators Say Problem Gambling Treatment Money Misspent

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two Republican state senators say even if the governor approves a request for increased funding to help problem gamblers, the money probably won't be spent where it was intended under Kansas law. Gary Haulmark of the Department for Aging and Disability Services has asked for a $3.5 million boost for problem gambling services. Senator Carolyn McGinn, of Sedgwick, wants lawyers for that department to justify how the money is being spent. Kansas requires 2 percent of gambling proceeds to go into a problem gambling fund. The Wichita Eagle reports that this year, only $740,000 of roughly $9 million in the fund has been budgeted for that purpose. Senator John Vratil, of Leawood, says the state "at best is being intellectually dishonest about how the money is being used."


Kansas Expects Mild Flu Season but Encourages Shots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials are expecting the state to have another relatively mild flu season, but they're still encouraging shots for nearly everyone 6 months or older. Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer and Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser had a Statehouse news conference Monday to promote getting vaccinated. Both received flu shots from a Walgreens pharmacist during the event. The flu season typically starts in early October, but the state has yet to receive a report of any influenza cases. But Colyer said it's still wise to get a shot to reduce the chances of spreading the illness. Moser said the state's 2011-12 flu season was relatively mild because the winter weather was warmer than normal. He said the state is expecting the same pattern this winter.


Flags to Be Lowered to Remember Kansas Native Arlen Specter

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — President Barack Obama has ordered U.S. flags at the White House and other public buildings flown at half-staff tomorrow (TUE), the day of the late Senator Arlen Specter's funeral. The Republican served as a public official in Pennsylvania for 30 years, but grew up in Kansas as the child of Jewish immigrants during the Depression. Specter was born in Wichita, but moved to Russell as a child. He graduated from Russell High School.

Kansas Winter Wheat Planting Making Progress

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers are nearly done planting winter wheat, with 81 percent of the crop now seeded. The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service says in a report Monday that 44 percent of the winter wheat has emerged. The agency even offered an early condition report for the 2013 crop, with 10 percent of the newly planted wheat already rated poor to very poor. Forty-eight percent of the wheat is rated in fair condition, with 40 percent rated good and 2 percent in excellent condition. Meanwhile, fall harvest is nearing the end for the Kansas corn crop, with 90 percent of it now cut. That is a couple of weeks earlier than usual. About 17 percent of the state's soybeans and 24 percent of the sorghum crop have been harvested.

UPDATE: Ex-Soldier Gets 10 Months for Kansas Sham Marriage

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas soldier has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for entering into a sham marriage so he could get additional military benefits and his Jamaican bride could become a legal immigrant. Joshua Priest briefly apologized at his hearing Monday in federal court in Wichita. The former Fort Riley private pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot rejected a request from prosecutors to be lenient because Priest had been cooperative. Priest had testified against his wife, Shannakay Hunter. The judge told Priest he violated the oath he took as a soldier. Belot also ordered restitution of nearly $30,000 for the fraudulently obtained housing and subsistence benefits given married soldiers.

Topeka Police Say Victims Shouldn't Chase Burglars

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say they discourage people who are confronted by burglars from taking matters into their own hands, despite recent incidents in which local residents did just that. During a 48-hour stretch earlier this month, two suspected burglars were arrested by police. The Topeka Capital Journal reports one of the men was brought to the ground by a victim and two neighbors, while the other eluded a pursuing victim but was nabbed by police. Police Captain Brian Desch says the department doesn't have a policy regarding victims who run down intruders, but he said for every story in which a burglar is caught, there are an equal number in which residents are hurt or killed. Desch says no property is worth a person losing his or her life.


Salmonella Fears Spur Firm to Recall Dog Treats

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A pet food company is voluntarily recalling dog treats that could be contaminated with salmonella. Nature's Recipe announced Saturday the recall of a limited supply of its "Nature's Recipe Oven Baked Biscuits with Real Chicken," which were manufactured at its plant in Topeka and distributed nationally. The company says the product has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella, which can affect animals eating the products and pose a risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. Nature's Recipe officials say no pet or human illnesses have been reported. The company says the recall is precautionary, and advises consumers who bought the recalled treats to discard them immediately.


Meetings Scheduled to Discuss Postal Hours in NW Kansas

GOVE, Kan. (AP) — Meetings are planned for Tuesday to discuss the U.S. Postal Service's plan to reduce hours at northwest Kansas postal offices. The meetings will be held Tuesday afternoon in Healy and later that day in Gove. The postal service wants to reduce service at Gove from eight hours to four. Gove, with 65 residents, is the smallest county seat in Kansas. The Hays Daily News reports residents plan to attend the meeting, but many believe the decision is already made and reducing the hours is better than closing the post office. The postal service plans to reduce hours at more than 360 Kansas post offices, 53 of which are in northwest Kansas. Community meetings are scheduled in Dorrance and Sylvan Grove October 31 to discuss the reductions.

SBA Office Relocation Testing Fed's New Moving Plan

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Small Business Administration's decision to move to a new office in Wichita will test a new federal government process designed to speed such moves. The General Services Administration says a new design process could reduce by several weeks the time it takes to complete one of the phases necessary to move a federal government office. The Wichita Eagle reports a design phase is required before a move to determine everything needed in the new office. In the past, that process could take 60 days or more. The new process will bring everyone involved in the move together in one meeting. Wayne Bell, the SBA's district director, says that should reduce the design phase to about three days. The SBA move is expected to be completed by May.


Olathe Automotive Teacher Wins National Award

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe teacher who barely graduated from high school has been named the best automotive teacher in the country. Ed Hensley teaches an automotive repair program run by the Olathe School District that has students from 19 area high schools. The Kansas City Star reported Monday that Hensley learned this month that he was named national instructor of the year by the National Institute for Automotive Excellence. The 54-year-old Hensley says his teaching is motivated by his own high school experience. He says he was an indifferent student and had few plans when he graduated, and that held him back for years and made supporting his family more difficult. Hensley says he uses his story to help students understand how important it is to take high school seriously.

Head-On Crash Kills 2 Kansas Drivers

MULVANE, Kan. (AP) — Two people are dead and a third is hospitalized with serious injuries following a head-on collision in south-central Kansas. The crash occurred around 6:30 am Monday on Kansas 15 near Mulvane, about 17 miles south of Wichita. The Kansas Highway Patrol says a northbound pickup truck entered the southbound lane and struck an oncoming pickup. Both drivers were killed. The patrol identified the driver of the northbound vehicle as 30-year-old Kyle Staab, of Arkansas City. The southbound driver was identified as 33-year-old Kristy Roszel, of Wichita. The patrol says both drivers were wearing seat belts. A 27-year-old passenger in the northbound truck was not buckled in; he was thrown from the vehicle and survived with serious injuries.

Rain Helps Plans for Satanta's 100th Birthday

SATANTA, Kan. (AP) — Rain is a reason to party in the small southwest Kansas town of Satanta. The Haskell County town postponed its fireworks celebration on July Fourth because of a two-year drought. After 2 inches of rain fell last Friday, the fireworks will be lit this Saturday, during a party celebrating the town's 100th anniversary. Satanta marks October 22, 1912 as its founding because it was the day the first train arrived after steel tracks for the railroad were completed. The Hutchinson Daily News reports Saturday's party is the culmination of a year of celebrations.

Kansas Food Companies Seeking to Export

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Several Kansas food companies have been working to boost their export opportunities. The Kansas Department of Agriculture says in a release Friday that five Kansas food companies participated in a forum this month in Chicago where to develop business with representatives from 30 countries. The Kansas companies participated in sessions on free trade agreements, foreign market pricing and consumer preferences worldwide. The companies that participated in the Food Export Midwest Marketing Forum in Chicago were CopperLeaf Gourmet of Lawrence, New Beginnings Food Company of Kansas City, Pantry Shelf of Hutchinson, Rabbit Creek Products of Louisburg and Sticky Stacks Syrup of Kansas City. The state Department of Agriculture says it works with Food Export Midwest to provide international trade opportunities for Kansas companies.

KCK Home Found Empty Hours After Standoff Begins

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas police waited several hours outside a house where they thought a murder suspect had taken cover, but later discovered the house was empty. Police responding to a call found a young man lying in a driveway around 4 am Sunday, suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was taken to a hospital where he later died. KSHB reports officers pursued a suspect to a nearby home, which they surrounded and used a loudspeaker in an effort to coax the person outside. Police entered the home around 11:45 am, and more than three hours later they declared the home empty and the suspect still at large. The identity of the victim was not immediately released, nor was a description of the suspect.

Army Corps to Modify Water Releases from Reservoirs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it plans to release less water from Tuttle Creek Reservoir, starting next week. But the corps' Kansas City office said Friday it will compensate for that reduction by increasing flows from the Milford and Perry reservoirs. The corps said the changes were needed to meet water needs at Topeka and DeSoto. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Tuttle Creek's elevation is dropping about 0.2 feet a day. At that rate, the reservoir's water level will drop below 1,065 feet around Monday. When that happens, water releases will be slowed from 900 cubic feet per second to around 400. The corps will increase releases from Milford from 25 cfs to about 200 cfs. Perry's release will increase from 25 cfs to around 150 cfs.

SE Kansas Art Festival Seeking Artists for Exhibit

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Organizers of a southeast Kansas art festival are looking for artists from Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma to participate in a large exhibit planned for downtown Pittsburg. SEK Art Fest 2012 says the exhibit will run from May to September and have the theme "Mining Memories" to celebrate the region's mining heritage. The Joplin Globe reports artists can submit proposals for how they would decorate large fiberglass coal buckets. the designs must answer the question, "What makes southeast Kansas great?" A panel that includes some local artists will select the designs that will be used in the exhibit. Those whose designs are selected will be paid $500 apiece to finish their work. Applications and proposals must be submitted to the group by December 7.

Group Seeks to Build Support for Wind Tax Credit

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A group that advocates for renewable energy is targeting the four Congressional representatives from Kansas who are opposed to renewing a tax credit for wind energy production. The Climate and Energy Project, a Kansas-based nonprofit group, is trying to gather at least 5,000 signatures urging Representatives Tim Huelskamp, Mike Pompeo, Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins to support extending the tax credit. A spokeswoman for the Kansas group says the signature drive started after Siemens Wind Power announced that it planned to lay off 256 of its 408 workers at its Hutchinson plant. The company says confusion over the future of the tax credit caused a sharp drop in orders for next year. The Hutchinson News reports Siemens employees are circulating their own letter to the Kansas congressional delegation.


Kansas Company Moves Ahead with Wind Project

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Developers of a large wind energy project in southwest Kansas have an agreement to sell some of the wind-generated energy to the state of Alabama. TradeWind Energy of Lenexa has reached a purchase agreement with Alabama Power Company to supply power from its Buffalo Dunes Wind Project near Garden City. The project is expected to be built across about 42,000 acres in southwest Kansas. TradeWind says in a release that the Alabama Public Service Commission approved the agreement last month. The Garden City Telegram reports that that TradeWind officials have been working to secure long-term leases for land largely in Grant County and Haskell County for the turbines and that commercial operation is expected by December 2013.

Study: High School Media Programs Lacking Online

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A new study by a co-written by researcher at the University of Kansas finds that while the majority of high schools surveyed have a journalism program the level of online content is varied. Assistant journalism professor Peter Bobkowski co-authored the study that appears in the September edition of the Journalism & Mass Communication Educator journal. The study looked at the survey results from 1,000 high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In all, 96 percent of high schools offer some kind of media opportunity. Only 33 percent of schools have an online component to their instruction. The reason for the low online element is based on a number of factors, but the researchers said the absence was a disservice to students.

Topeka Executive Pleads Guilty in Medicaid Scheme

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Topeka executive has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to stealing more than $2 million in Medicaid funds. The U.S. Attorney's office for Kansas said in a release Friday that 43-year-old Jason Sellers of Lyndon pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for diverting Medicaid funds to his own use when he was chief financial officer of Kansas Health Solutions. Prosecutors said Sellers fraudulently billed Kansas Health Solutions for information technology services performed by a fake business and also billed Kansas Health Solutions for sports uniforms and other equipment. Sentencing has been scheduled for January 17th.


Rain Helps Plans for Satanta's 100th Birthday

SATANTA, Kan. (AP) — Rain is a reason to party in the small southwest Kansas town of Satanta. The Haskell County town postponed its fireworks celebration on July Fourth because of a two-year drought. After 2 inches of rain fell last Friday, the fireworks will be lit this Saturday, during a party celebrating the town's 100th anniversary. Satanta marks October 22, 1912 as its founding because it was the day the first train arrived after steel tracks for the railroad were completed. The Hutchinson Daily News reports Saturday's party is the culmination of a year of celebrations.

Man Sentenced to 25 years in Kansas City Man's Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 20-year-old man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing a central Kansas City business owner. Anthony C. Britton was sentenced Monday for second-degree murder and other charges in the May 2011 shooting death of 50-year-old David Bledsoe at Bledsoe's Rental. A second defendant, Andre M. Broadus, was convicted in Bledsoe's death last week and will be sentenced next month. The two men were attempting to rob the business when they shot Bledsoe, who was able to chase them a short way before he collapsed. The Kansas City Star reports that Britton's grandfather, George Britton, who drove the getaway car, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.

KC Police Offer Breath Tests to Bar Patrons

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Lines of drinkers waited on a weekend night to have their intoxication levels checked and it didn't have anything to do with a sobriety checkpoint. Kansas City police allowed drinkers to measure their blood-alcohol content at a Waldo bar Friday night as part of a new program that could be expanded if the effort gets good reviews. The Kansas City Star reports some of those who showed up at Tanner's Bar and Grill were shocked when they saw how high their alcohol levels were, even though they didn't feel intoxicated. Supporters say the program gives people a chance to learn in a controlled manner how even a few drinks can send them over the state's legal limit for driving, before they find out the hard way.

Car Crash Claims Lives of Missouri Man, Kansas Teenager

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A 19-year-old Joplin man and his 16-year-old female passenger from Galena, Kan., are dead after a one-car crash three miles west of Joplin. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says Jon West was driving on Junge Boulevard at 6:45 pm Saturday when his 1992 Lexus left the road and struck a tree. West was ejected from the car. His passenger, Journey Tate-Nourani, was killed in the vehicle, which burned. The patrol says West was not wearing a seatbelt, while it was unclear whether his passenger was buckled up.

K-State Moves into Top 5 of AP College Football Poll

The top five in The Associated Press college football poll has been rearranged for a second straight week, with Florida, Kansas State and Notre Dame moving up in the rankings. Number 1 Alabama and number 2 Oregon hold the top two spots for a fourth straight week. The changes came behind them, where the Gators moved up one spot to number 3, and the fourth-ranked Wildcats and fifth-ranked Fighting Irish both jumped two places. The shuffling comes after a second straight Saturday in which multiple top-five teams lost. South Carolina fell 23-21 at LSU on Saturday night and drops from number 3 to number 9. West Virginia slides from number 5 to number 17 after being routed 49-14 at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders moved into the rankings at 18th.

K-State Emerges Alone Atop Big 12 Conference

AMES, Iowa (AP) — The upcoming football matchup between Kansas State and West Virginia was supposed to break up the tie between the Wildcats and Mountaineers for first place in the Big 12. There's no doubt who leads the league now. Number 4 Kansas State (6-0, 3-0) emerged from Saturday's hard-fought 27-21 win over Iowa State (4-2, 1-2) as the Big 12's only unbeaten team, both overall and in conference play. Though the Wildcats would quickly lose their grip on the league lead with a loss at number 17 West Virginia — which lost at Texas Tech on Saturday — K-State players woke up on Sunday as the unquestioned leaders of the conference.

Chiefs Lose to Tampa Bay 38-10 Despite QB Change 

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Josh Freeman threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns and Ronde Barber scored on a 78-yard interception return to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the struggling Kansas City Chiefs 38-10 on Sunday. Freeman's inconsistency has been an issue in a slow start for Tampa Bay, but the fourth-year pro is developing a touch on deep passes that's sparked a sputtering offense over the past two games. Freeman teamed with Mike Williams on a 62-yard scoring play in the first quarter and threw TD passes of 19 and 17 yards to Vincent Jackson in the second half as the Bucs (2-3) stopped a three-game losing streak. The Bucs intercepted Brady Quinn twice in the Kansas City quarterback's first start in nearly three years. They also limited NFL rushing leader Jamaal Charles to 40 yards on 12 carries.


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