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Regional Headlines for Sunday, March 3, 2013


GOP Lawmakers: Brownback Plan Won't Be Spared Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Republican leaders are turning their attention to the budget as they finish the first half of the legislative session. They're saying more cuts are likely to Republican Governor Sam Brownback's spending plan, regardless of the outcome of his proposed tax cuts. Senate President Susan Wagle and others say those cuts are necessary to balance the funding of state government with the reduction of revenues caused by income tax cuts enacted by legislators last year. Brownback is asking legislators to consider cutting taxes even deeper, which raising revenue through the elimination of certain deductions and keeping the sales tax rate flat.Democrats argue significant cuts have already occurred in state spending and further reductions would harm core functions, such as education and social services.


Superintendent of Ottawa Schools Resigns

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — The superintendent of Ottawa schools has resigned. Superintendent Dean Katt resigned from his job Friday but plans to stay with the district as a consultant through October 31st. Board secretary Theresa Powers says Katt submitted his resignation to the Ottawa school board during a special meeting Friday. Katt had been superintendent since 2006. Assistant Superintendent Brian Kraus will be interim superintendent. School board president Susan Ward says a search for his replacement will begin soon. The Ottawa school district is in Franklin County and has about 2,500 students in kindergarten through high school.


Kansas Drought Means More Conservation Efforts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State officials say the intense drought that's hit Kansas could continue and force expensive water production projects and conservation efforts. Governor Sam Brownback said Friday the state should work to convince farmers, industry and Kansans to conserve water and that cities will need to work on developing and improving water sources. Brownback also suggested starting publicity campaigns asking farmers to consider planting less water-intensive crops. The governor's call to action came after Wichita officials showed Brownback's Drought Response Team how the drought could dry out Cheney Reservoir by 2015 if it continues. State climatologist Mary Knapp says the drought that's hit Kansas could continue for several more years.


Pratt Hospice to Have Bankruptcy Plan Soon

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for a Pratt-based hospice that serves 10 south-central Kansas counties says the nonprofit group plans to file a bankruptcy reorganization plan soon. The South Wind Hospice filed for protection in November after it defaulted on bond payments for a new hospice built in Pratt in 2005. It still owes about $1.9 million on the $3 million project. Attorney Edward Nazar says the organization plans to get financing from a lender, which will be used to make a payment to bondholders. He says it will be less than the amount of the bonds, but calls it a "significant amount." He also says the plan includes satisfying tax liens and making lump-sum payments to unsecured creditors. The Hutchinson News reports the hospice employs 36 people.


Colorado Gun Manufacturer Says It Could Leave State

ERIE, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado company that manufactures firearm accessories has stepped into the spotlight over the gun control debate as state lawmakers consider limiting ammunition magazines. Officials at Erie, Colorado-based Magpul Industries have told legislators they will leave the state if the pass a bill to ban magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. One potential destination could be across the state line to Kansas. Lawmakers have tried to ease Magpul's concerns by amending the proposal to specify the company can still manufacture magazines of any size, but they could only sell them out of state or to law enforcement and the military. Company officials argue the limits on magazine sizes won't prevent violence but will cause legal uncertainty for their business. The company has largely been operated largely unnoticed since 1999. The firearm accessories they sell are used by gun enthusiasts, the military and law enforcement.


Sedgwick County Zoo's Tiger Cub Dies

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A tiger cub has died just a few days after it was born at the Sedgwick County Zoo. The zoo announced the cub's death Friday. The Amur tiger appeared to be doing well after the birth Sunday. The zoo says the cause of death was internal trauma. The zoo's deputy director, Ryan Gulker, says the cub's mother, Talali, may have stepped on the cub or laid down on it. He says video surveillance showed no maternal aggression or neglect.


Judge Dismisses Kansas Inmate's Lawsuit Against Jail

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Shawnee County Jail inmate who claimed he was being discriminated against because he is Muslim. U.S. Senior District Judge Sam Crow dismissed Jason Hachmeister's lawsuit at Hachmeister's request. Hachmeister had been seeking $100 million from defendants that included Shawnee County. Hachmeister accused jail officials of not providing him with food that met the requirements of his Muslim faith. He also claimed that Muslims aren't allowed to witness to their faith in jail. Hachmeister is in Shawnee County jail awaiting trial for first-degree murder in the strangulation death of his mother, Sheila Hachmeister. She was found dead in their Topeka home in September 2010.


Victims in $537k Fraud Can Recover Some Funds

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The victims of a Topeka lawyer convicted of stealing more than $500,000 from his clients' trust funds can recover some of the money. Kansas courts spokesman Ron Keefover told The Topeka Capital-Journal that something called the Client Protection Fund will pay up to $350,000 to victims of Robert Telthorst. The 52-year-old was sentenced last month to five years in federal prison for wire fraud and money laundering. He also was ordered to repay $537,680. Telthorst admitted that he defrauded clients from November 2005 to August 2011 by taking money for his benefit and to cover money taken from other clients. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said one of the clients Telthorst defrauded was a charitable trust of $80,000 for the University of Kansas School of Business.


Kansas Woman Sentenced for Social Security Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Leavenworth woman has been sentenced to about a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to Social Security fraud and theft of public funds. The U.S. Attorney's Office for Kansas said in a release Friday that 38-year-old Tya Dejuan Tiller was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for fraudulently collecting disability benefits while working in federal and state jobs. Tiller also has to pay about $76,000 in restitution. Tiller admitted applying in 2003 for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and continued to receive the benefits while working in 2005, 2006 and 2007 for the Veterans Administration, and in 2007, 2008 and 2009 for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. She didn't report that she was working, which is required under Social Security rules.


Shields Impresses Royals After Trade From Rays

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Recently acquired right-hander James Shields started to impress the Kansas City Royals even before throwing his first pitch in a spring training game. Royals manager Ned Yost recalled how a couple days earlier, Shields had watched from the bench as Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar took their turn on the mound in a game against Milwaukee — even though starting pitchers aren't required to sit there when Kansas City plays National League teams. Shields was the key piece of an offseason trade that also brought right-hander Wade Davis to the Royals from Tampa Bay. Kansas City gave up top prospects Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, and two other minor leaguers, as it sought to upgrade its weak starting rotation. Already, Shields is showing the kind of leadership Yost wants out of the ace of his staff.

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