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Regional Headlines for Monday, October 29, 2012



Kansas Groups to Aid in Hurricane Response

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ Emergency responders from Kansas have been helping out along the East Coast as Hurricane Sandy bears down on that region. The Salina Journal reports that emergency response volunteers and professionals from north-central Kansas are helping organize shelters and provide other emergency aid. The hurricane began battering the area Monday. The Kansas Incident Management Team traveled to Maryland on Sunday to support emergency responders there. The team will be deployed through November 11 to work in Maryland's Emergency Operations Center. The Kansas National Guard also is sheltering military aircraft in Topeka from the hurricane-affected areas. Six KC-135 tankers and crews from Andrews Air Force Base arrived Sunday at Forbes Field. The American Red Cross in north-central Kansas also sent four responders to help in New York City and Baltimore.


Kansas Chamber Seeks to Tie Democrats to Health Care Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Chamber of Commerce is trying to tie Democratic state senators to President Barack Obama and the federal health care overhaul. Chamber Vice President Jeff Glendening said Monday the group's political action committee began sending mailings last week. They feature photos of President Obama. Glendening said the mailings went to prospective voters in the districts of Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka and Senators Tom Holland of Baldwin City, Kelly Kultala of Kansas City and Laura Kelly of Topeka. The mailings say each lawmaker voted against allowing Kansas to opt out of the federal law. It's a reference to their votes this year against a largely symbolic amendment to the Kansas Constitution protesting the federal health care law. Democrats said the mailing's charges are unfair.


State Senator Tom Holland Outspends GOP Challenger

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas Democrat in a tough race for re-election to the state Senate has raised and spent more money than his conservative Republican challenger over the past three months. Incumbent Tom Holland of Baldwin City filed a campaign finance report Monday showing that he raised more than $80,000 from late July through late October. Of that, $20,000 came from a Kansas Democratic Party group. The report shows that Holland began the period with almost $105,000 on hand, so he was able to spend about $100,000 and repay a $52,000 personal loan to his campaign. Holland is running in the 3rd Senate District against Republican House member Anthony Brown, of Eudora. Brown reports raising almost $65,000 during the same period, including $8,700 from GOP groups. He spent about $61,000.


Proposed Settlement in Kansas Gas Rate Request

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A proposed settlement would increase Kansas Gas Service bills for most customers by about $2 per month. The company, consumer advocates and state regulatory staff approved the settlement Friday but it still must be approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission. The Wichita Eagle reports that the gas company's rates would increase by about $10 million a year. Kansas Gas had asked for a $32 million increase. In a filing to the commission, the three groups said the settlement would be fair for everyone concerned. As part of the proposal, Kansas Gas gave up trying to shift more of the cost of rates from corporate customers to residential ratepayers. The settlement does not specifically address how much of the increase will be used for executive bonuses.


KS Conservatives Seek Another Statehouse Wave

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Critics of Republican Governor Sam Brownback sense that races this fall for the Kansas Legislature represent their last chance to slow the state's march to the right. Democrats have attempted to make legislative contests a referendum on the conservative governor and massive income tax cuts he signed into law earlier this year. Brownback's allies are looking to win commanding majorities for GOP conservatives. The GOP right is all but certain to control both chambers after the November 6 election. However, conservatives are hoping for a two-thirds majority in the Senate that would make it easier for them to pursue changes in the Kansas Constitution. If Democrats gain seats, there's a better chance that they and GOP moderates still can check Brownback's ambitions.


Vigil Honors 6 Killed in Atchison Grain Elevator Explosion

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — Family and friends of six men killed in a northeast Kansas grain elevator explosion were honored by a vigil marking the one-year anniversary of their deaths. The men died October 29, 2011, when the Bartlett Grain elevator in Atchison exploded. During a vigil Sunday in Atchison, relatives honored John Burke, Ryan Federinko, Curtis Fields, Chad Roberts, Travis Keil and Darrek Klahr.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports that the vigil included prayers and Bible readings. Each man's obituary was read aloud, followed by a bell tolling and a moment of silence. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in April that Bartlett could have prevented the grain-dust explosion by addressing addressed hazards known in the industry. OSHA sought $406,000 in penalties. Bartlett officials are disputing the finding and the fines.


Northeast KS Man Killed Along Highway in Hit-and-Run

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Investigators in northeastern Kansas say a motorist who struck and killed a 21-year-old college student might not have realized that someone had been hit. KMAN-AM reports the victim has been identified as Manhattan resident Konley Harding, a student at Manhattan Area Technical College. The Pottawatomie County sheriff's office says witnesses saw a small SUV crossover or large sedan run over the victim around midnight Saturday on U.S. 24, about two miles east of Manhattan. The vehicle continued with stopping. Authorities say Harding was wearing dark clothing and, according to witnesses, had been lying in the roadway. The sheriff says the driver was probably aware of hitting something, but not necessarily that it was a person. Investigators are reviewing tapes of traffic in the area at the time.


Fire Forces Evacuation at Abilene Assisted-Living Facility 

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) _ A fire that started on a deck outside an Abilene assisted-living facility forced about 60 residents out of their beds and to a church across the street. The Salina Journal reports the fire started between 4 am and 4:30 am Saturday at Frontier Estates but was contained to one area. Facility manager Sally Zedalis says a passerby noticed the flames and called police. All of the residents were taken to a First Christian Church, where they were fed breakfast. Most were able to go back to their apartments later Saturday morning, but residents of four apartments that were damaged were temporarily relocated. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


Emporia State Student Fails to Return from Germany

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Officials are looking for an Emporia State University student who failed to return from a trip to Germany. University spokeswoman Gwen Larson says 20-year-old Emilee Irsik of Wichita didn't tell family or friends about the trip before departing October 19 during the school's fall break. She landed the next day in Hamburg. Her roommates notified the school when Irsik didn't show up for classes October 22, the Monday after the four-day weekend ended. University police worked with airport and airline officials to determine her travel arrangements, including that she had booked a return trip Friday. But Larson says Irsik didn't get on the flight. Larson says Irsik's cell phone isn't being answered. Irsik is studying German and was interested in studying abroad, but Larson says the trip wasn't school sanctioned.


2 Dead in Car-Train Collision in Northeast Kansas

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) — Two people have died in a collision with a freight train at a railroad crossing in northeast Kansas. Brown County Sheriff John Merchant says a pickup truck collided with a Union Pacific train around 10 am Monday north of Hiawatha. Merchant says the two people in the pickup -- 59-year-old Thurman Turner and 18-year-old Veronica Hogle -- were pronounced dead at the scene. Both were from Hiawatha. The Kansas Highway Patrol says it's not clear who was driving the pickup. KNZA-AM reports that Turner was well known in the Hiawatha area for rallying fellow motorcycle riders to take part in fundraising rides for charity. The cause of the crash is under investigation.


Drought Taking Big Bite Out of Kansas Cattle Herds

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The extended drought is prompting cattle farmers across Kansas to sell some or all of their herds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported last week that the number of cattle sent to Kansas feedlots in September was the lowest on record for that month, down 25 percent from September 2011. The number of cattle sold by feedlots to packers in Kansas fell 17 percent from a year ago and tied for the worst month ever. The Wichita Eagle reported the cattle industry expected the steep drop in cattle as drought ruined pastures, dramatically increasing the cost of feed. Graham County farmer Ken Grecian said his pastures could support 350 cow-calf pairs in a normal year, but said he thinks he will be lucky if he can support 250 next year.


Western Kansas Agency to Expand with Tax Credit

SCOTT CITY, Kan. (AP) — A social service agency in western Kansas is seeking to expand with the help of a state tax credit program. The Western Kansas Child Advocacy Center is one of 27 nonprofit organizations awarded part of $4.13 million given by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The money comes from the department's Community Service Tax Credit program. The Garden City Telegram reports the advocacy center will use its allotted $160,000 to buy a third mobile unit, which will allow the organization to expand its mobile mental health services. WKCAC works with victims of child abuse in 29 counties in western Kansas. The organization has two mobile units, one for forensic interviews and the other for both medical exams and mental health therapy.


Governor Plans Conference on Future of Water in KS

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is sponsoring a two-day event this week that his office is calling the state's first conference on the future of water. The event is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Manhattan. Brownback plans to speak the first day. Also on the conference agenda are U.S. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas and Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The governor's office says the conference will examine the state's water infrastructure, ways to improve water quality and how to meet demand for water from the energy and agriculture industries. Another topic is extending the useful life of the Ogallala Aquifer as a source for drinking water and for irrigation.


Online Atlas Highlights High Plains Aquifer

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A new online atlas chronicles the history of the High Plains Aquifer in Kansas. The High Plains Aquifer Atlas was launched recently by the Kansas Geological Survey. It features more than 70 maps, many of which are interactive. The Hutchinson News reports that the atlas provides insight into the past and future of Kansas's High Plains Aquifer. The aquifer is considered the lifeblood of the southwest Kansas economy. Brownie Wilson, with the Kansas Geological Survey, said it's been talking about putting together an atlas for years, well before Governor Sam Brownback and others began pushing to find ways to extend the life of the state's groundwater supplies. Wilson says the atlas also allows users to access individual well data for some of the region's water wells.


Eisenhower Biographer to Speak in Abilene

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — A biographer of President Dwight D. Eisenhower is scheduled to speak in Abilene. Historian Jean Edward Smith, author of the book "Eisenhower in War and Peace," is leading a discussion Thursday evening at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. The Salina Journal reports that Smith's book examines Eisenhower's journey from Abilene to West Point, through World War II, the presidency and later. Smith has been a faculty member at the University of Toronto and Marshall University, and is a senior scholar in the history department at Columbia University. A book signing will follow the discussion.


Salina Dentists Offer to Buy Back Candy

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina dentists are offering to buy back kids' Halloween candy and send it to soldiers. The Salina Journal reports that Discovery Dental Center has offered to buy back Halloween candy from children for $2 a pound. They'll then send the sugary loot to soldiers overseas. Doctors Earl O'Hara, Gary O'Hara and Brent Mayginnes say they'll buy unopened candy from trick-or-treaters, exchanging money, toothbrushes and prizes. They'll ship the candy haul to California-based Operation Gratitude, which assembles and ships care packages for soldiers. The dentists say they'll also accept monetary donations for shipping and handling for the care packages. The candy and donations will be accepted at Discovery Dental Center from 11 am to 1 pm on November 2 and 3.


Kansas Small Business Center Helps Entrepreneurs

ULYSSES, Kan. (AP) _ In a time when Kansas is working to encourage more businesses, many entrepreneurs are turning to the Kansas Small Business Center for help. The center offers free, confidential counseling to people with dreams of starting a business, particularly in rural areas. It also works with owners of existing small businesses to improve their product. It has a budget of about $3 million a year, funded by state and federal money. The center's state director, Greg Panichello, says the business center helped start 360 businesses in Kansas in 2011, and helped boost existing businesses. The effort created or saved about 3,000 jobs. The Hutchinson News reports that about 80 percent of the center's work occurs in rural areas.


Chiefs QB Quinn Being Evaluated for Concussion

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn is being evaluated for a possible concussion and his status for Thursday night's game at San Diego remains uncertain. Coach Romeo Crennel said Monday that Quinn will start against the Chargers if he's cleared to play. Otherwise, Matt Cassel will be back under center for the Chiefs. Quinn was hurt in the first quarter of Sunday's 26-16 loss to the Oakland Raiders, though it's unclear when the injury occurred. He was sacked by Rolando McClain late in the first quarter and then took another shot while floating a pass that was picked by Matt Giordano. Crennel said that Quinn wasn't at the practice facility Monday while he underwent tests, and Cassel would run the first-team offense during a walk-through practice.


Kansas Sports in the News

Though Kansas City Chiefs fans aren't finding much to cheer about this week, things are looking up for some other Kansans in the world of sports. The Kansas State University football team has moved up to second in the national BCS football rankings. The Wildcats are currently undefeated, and will continue to pursue their perfect season Saturday night in Manhattan as they take on Oklahoma State. Elsewhere, Emporia native Clint Bowyer improved his standings in the NASCAR Chase. He's now in third place overall, following his fifth-place finish yesterday (SUN) at the track in Martinsville, Virginia. And a rally will be held tomorrow (TUE) night in Kansas City for fans of Sporting KC, the two-time reigning Eastern Conference champions for the MLS. Sporting KC will open its playoff run Saturday or Sunday against the winner of a first-round game between Chicago and Houston.

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