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Regional Headlines for Saturday, July 7, 2012



 Fireworks Claim Multiple Homes in Kansas


EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) – The toll from fires blamed on Fourth of July fireworks is adding up around Kansas. In Hutchinson, authorities estimate the damage at $600,000 from a fire that left a home in ruins and killed a couple’s two dogs. Investigators say Thursday’s pre-dawn blaze apparently began when fireworks landed on the roof from somewhere in the neighborhood. Fireworks are also suspected in several house fires in the Wichita area. Even spent fireworks can spark a blaze. WIBW-TV reports a house in Emporia went up in flames Thursday when two children put a couple of spent sparklers on the ground. The sparklers ignited dry grass under the front porch, starting a fire that spread quickly. No one was injured.

Democrat Seeks To Run As Independent For Kansas House Seat


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Democrat who couldn’t seek a Kansas House seat because his filing form was lost now hopes to run as an Independent. Larry Meeker of Lake Quivira says he’ll kick off a petition drive today (SAT) in Shawnee. He needs signatures from 4 percent of the registered voters in the 17th House District in the Kansas City area to qualify as a candidate in the November general election. Meeker can gather signatures until August 6, the day before the state’s primary election. State Representative Brett Hildabrand of Shawnee and another Republican also are running for the seat. Democrats contend the secretary of state’s office lost Meeker’s filing form after it was delivered on the June 11 deadline. The secretary of state’s office says there was no proof it was submitted.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Expecting Boost as All-Star Festivities Begin

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is banking on a boost from All-Star game festivities in Kansas City this weekend as it continues to recover from the brink of closure. The museum had fallen on hard times during the economic downturn, due in part to politics and in-fighting. But the museum has largely recovered over the past year, just in time for Major League Baseball to bring its annual Midsummer Classic to its doorstep. Events are planned throughout the weekend at the museum, located in the historic 18th and Vine District. Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson are among the stars involved. Museum president Bob Kendrick won’t even hazard a guess as to how many people will push through the turnstiles, but he expects a financial windfall approaching $500,000.

Kansas Seeks To End Case Over Abortion Insurance Law


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) Attorneys for a Kansas official argue in federal court filings that critics of a law restricting insurance coverage for abortions haven’t shown that it burdens women seeking to end their pregnancies. Lawyers for Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger on Friday asked U-S District Judge Julie Robinson to uphold the 2011 statute without a trial. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking to have the state law overturned. The law prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as part of general health plans, except when a woman’s life is at risk. Kansas residents who want coverage for elective abortions must buy supplemental policies. The ACLU argued in a filing last month that the law makes it more difficult to obtain abortions. Attorneys for Praeger contend there’s no proof of that.

Costs From Agency Name Change Rile Kansas Lawmaker


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Democrat in the Kansas House is criticizing Republican Governor Sam Brownback’s reorganization of state social service agencies. He says new names for the two departments come with a projected $220,000 cost. The reorganization took effect this week. It’s part of Brownback’s larger effort to overhaul the state’s $2.9 billion-a-year Medicaid program, which covers health care for the poor, disabled and needy. The administration contends the overhaul, which turns the program’s management over to private insurance companies, will result in better-coordinated care and save more than $1 billion over five years. But state Representative Sean Gatewood, a Topeka Democrat, is skeptical of those projections. He said Friday that even if the Medicaid overhaul makes the program less costly, he questions whether the state needed to rename two agencies, creating additional administrative expenses.

Amid Criticism, Kansas Man Retools Mug Shot Website

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) – A version of a website that posted mug shots of people arrested in Johnson County was back up and running after being temporarily offline. Matthew Creed of Shawnee said Friday he temporarily took down the site,, on Thursday so he could make changes to it. The site was running Friday, but without its full map component. Creed’s two-month-old website featured a map of the bi-state Kansas City area with dots showing the Kansas or Missouri hometowns of people arrested in Johnson County. Clicking on the dots brought up the mug shots and addresses of people arrested. Some of the photos were of people arrested for such infractions as being a minor in possession of tobacco, or driving with expired registration. Some critics called Creed’s business extortion or blackmail.

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