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Regional Headlines for Thursday, April 5, 2012


UPDATE: Civil Rights Complaint over Abortion Records Disposal Filed with HHS   

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal agency has received a civil rights complaint about a former Kansas abortion provider's disposal of hundreds of patients' files in a recycling bin near his Kansas City-area home. Leon Rodriguez, director of the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, confirmed Thursday the office received a complaint March 26 about Krishna Rajanna's handling of files. The files were from an abortion clinic that closed in 2005 after Rajanna's Kansas medical license was revoked. The complaint came two days after the files were discovered in the bin near Rajanna's home in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park. Rodriguez said the complaint was assigned to a regional office in Kansas City, Missouri for review. He declined to comment further. Rajanna also declined comment.


Kansas DMV Resumes Normal Operations Following 2-Day Shutdown 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is issuing driver's licenses and non-driver identification cards again after fixing a problem that crashed a Division of Vehicles computer system for two days. Spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda said Thursday that 111 driver's license offices across the state were back to normal operations, with no problems reported in issuing licenses and ID cards. The problem was with an outside vendor's 8-year-old server, which kept the division from issuing licenses and ID cards Tuesday and Wednesday. The division is undergoing a $40 million computer-system upgrade that will integrate driver's license records with vehicle title and registration data. The division has said that once the upgrade is completed, the outside vendor's older server will not be needed. The driver's license offices serve about 13,000 people a week.


KU Med Cutting 80 Administrative Jobs 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas Medical Center has eliminated about 80 of its 3,900 jobs. The cuts came after a university-wide analysis of staffing needs. The medical center cuts affected only administrative positions, not teaching staff. No employees at the University of Kansas Hospital were involved. Barbara Atkinson, University of Kansas executive vice chancellor and dean of the medical school, wrote in a recent newsletter to employees that the job cuts were designed in part to free money for raises to employees, who have not received a pay increase for four years.


KS Ag Secretary Rodman Named to Kansas Bioscience Authority

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has named Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman to the board of an agency set up to nurture bioscience companies. Rodman's appointment to the Kansas Bioscience Authority was announced Thursday. He replaces Sandra Lawrence. Brownback cited Rodman's nearly 50 years of experience in agribusiness as a factor in his appointment, which must be confirmed by the state Senate. The Kansas Bioscience Authority was established in 2004. It has come under scrutiny from Brownback and other Republicans over its management and investments under former CEO Tom Thornton, who resigned last year for a job in Ohio. Rodman led the administration's oversight of an audit of the KBA's activities dating to its creation. The audit raised questions about perceived conflicts of interest and misuse of funds by Thornton.


Pharmaceutical Company Bringing Jobs to Overland Park 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Teva Neuroscience is moving its headquarters and 400 employees from Kansas City, Missouri, to Overland Park.  The pharmaceutical firm is the latest big company to be lured by tax incentives to cross the border into Kansas. Teva Neuroscience's main products are drugs for multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. The Kansas City Star reports that Teva officials said incentives from Kansas and Overland Park were only part of the company's decision. They said the site chosen is in a high-profile area, and it will be possible to have a building ready by October 2013. The company and Kansas officials declined to disclose what incentives were offered to Teva. Missouri and Kansas City also offered an incentive package.

US Agriculture Secretary Plans Visit to KC, Kansas State University

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will use a Kansas City, Missouri convenience store as a stage to talk about combatting high gas prices with biofuels. Vilsack plans to use next Monday's speech to highlight a step the federal government has taken toward wide distribution of gasoline mixed with 15 percent ethanol by allowing manufacturers to register as suppliers. While the Environmental Protection Agency is moving the process forward by allowing the registration, E15 still must clear another set of federal tests and become a registered fuel in individual states. Ethanol makers then must convince petroleum marketers to sell it at gas stations. The new blend would be restricted to 2001 and newer vehicles. From Kansas City, Vilsack will head Tuesday to Kansas State to participate in the school's Landon Lecture series.


Fort Riley Implements Gate Access Restrictions

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) _ Army officials are adjusting the hours of operations for access to gates at Fort Riley in northeastern Kansas. Starting tomorrow (FRI), the gates at 12th Street adjacent to Junction City will no longer be open 24 hours a day. The new hours will be weekdays from 4am to 7pm and closed on weekends and federal holidays. The gate for visitors entering through the town of Ogden will also change its hours, returning to 24-hour operations including weekends and federal holidays.


UPDATE: Testimony Ends in Trial over Kansas Teen's Death

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Both sides have rested in the trial of a central Kansas man accused of killing a 14-year-old girl and burning her body at the asphalt plant where he worked. Prosecutors ended their presentation of evidence Thursday morning in the trial of 38-year-old Adam Longoria, the Great Bend man charged with capital murder in the August 2010 death of Alicia DeBolt. Defense lawyers then called witnesses to testify about various vehicles they saw leaving the asphalt plant in Great Bend during the night the girl disappeared. None of the descriptions matched that of the SUV Longoria was driving. Longoria did not testify before the defense rested Thursday afternoon. Barton County District Judge Hannelore Kitts sent the jury home for the day, with closing arguments expected Friday.


Northeast Kansas Gets Another Lottery Millionaire as KS Mega Millions Winner Still Unknown

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Lottery officials say another $1 million ticket has been sold in northeast Kansas, this time to someone who played Powerball. The ticket is the second millionaire prize hit in the past week, though Wednesday night's prize is dwarfed by the weekend Mega Millions drawing. Lottery officials say Thursday they are still waiting to hear from the Kansas winner who shares the $656 million with winners in Illinois and Maryland. Each winner will receive about $218 million. Lottery winners in Kansas have up to a year to come forward to claim their prize. The Powerball winner's name hasn't been disclosed. Lottery spokeswoman Cara Sloan-Ramos said the winner matched all five white balls to earn the $1 million prize under new rules. Previously the prize was $200,000.


Judge: Charges Against Kansas City Diocese and Accused Bishop Will Stand

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri judge has refused to dismiss misdemeanor charges against a Kansas City diocese and its bishop, who is the highest-ranking U.S. Roman Catholic official accused of shielding an abusive priest. Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are charged with failing to report suspected child abuse. Prosecutors say each is a "mandatory reporter" under the state law. Defense attorneys argued the law is unconstitutionally vague, and that Finn wasn't the diocese's designated reporter. Circuit Judge John Torrence said Thursday the law isn't vague and there's evidence to allow jurors to conclude Finn is a designated reporter. Finn has acknowledged he had been told about child pornography found on a priest's computer several months before the diocese turned over to police a disk containing the photos.


New Kansas State Men's Baskeball Coach Begins Hiring Staff 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State men's basketball coach Bruce Weber has picked the first member of his staff, hiring Chris Lowery as an assistant with duties to be named later. Lowery was 145-116 in eight seasons as head coach of Southern Illinois, where he was fired last month. Kansas State said Thursday that contract details are being finalized, but he'll earn a base salary of $210,000 for 2012-13. Lowery has worked in the past as an assistant to Weber, who calls him an outstanding recruiter. Lowery took Southern Illinois to three NCAA tournament appearances, the last time in 2007. But the Salukis have had losing records in three of their last four seasons. Weber was fired after the past season at Illinois and hired by Kansas State to replace Frank Martin, who left for South Carolina.


Kansas Teacher Admits to Sex with Students

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A former Shawnee Mission West High School teacher has admitted to having sex with students. Twenty-eight-year-old Michelle L. Preston pleaded guilty Thursday to three felony counts involving students age 16 or older. A judge set her sentencing for June 1. The Kansas City Star reports Preston taught psychology and world geography and coached cheerleading at Shawnee Mission West. She was suspended after the allegations surfaced last March and the district did not renew her contract. Preston is free on bond pending sentencing.


Construction Begins on Largest Planned Kansas Wind Farm  

HARPER, Kan. (AP) _ Construction is under way in south-central Kansas of what's expected to be the state's largest wind farm. The $800 million wind farm is located on a 66,000-acre site, about 40 miles southwest of Wichita in Harper County. Yesterday (WED), state officials joined representatives of BP Wind Energy and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power to mark the start of work on the Flat Ridge 2 wind farm in Harper County. Governor Sam Brownback says the project is important for the nation's energy production and for revitalizing rural Kansas. 


Police: Car Thieves Now Using Tow Trucks in Topeka 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities in Topeka are reporting a new trend in crime: thieves using a tow truck to steal cars. A police spokeswoman says that thieves are hooking up cars on city streets, usually in residential neighborhoods and then towing them to another spot to strip the parts. Authorities aren't sure of the number of such crimes, but it's happened often enough that police issued an alert yesterday (WED).


Mormons Mark Return to KC Area with New Temple

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is opening its new, multimillion-dollar Kansas City temple. The Mormon temple is on eight acres north of downtown and opens to the public for about two weeks beginning this weekend. After the temple is dedicated May 6, it will be open only to church members. The temple will largely serve about 25,000 members in the Kansas City area and about 100,000 members in Kansas and Missouri. The only other Mormon temple in Missouri is in St. Louis. Kansas does not have a Mormon temple. The new building includes offices and several rooms for various events, including weddings, instruction and baptism. Church officials said the temple in Kansas City was needed to address the needs of the growing Mormon population in the area.

Rash of Burglaries Noted in Northeast Sedgwick County 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say expensive jewelry seems to be the main target of thieves that have hit several homes in northeast Sedgwick County. Eight burglaries have been reported in the area in the last three months. Investigators say they are looking at a few cases in Sumner, Reno, and Butler counties that could possibly be related. KAKE-TV reports that in one case, the thieves made off with nearly $100,000 in jewelry. A suspect was arrested in two of the home burglaries where jewelry was stolen in southwest Sedgwick county, but investigators say it's too soon to tell if he is connected to the other cases.


KC Art Museum Joins with Google to Display Art Online 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is now part of Google's worldwide art project. Google's Art Project Initiative provides access to more than 30,000 ultra-high resolution images of paintings, sculptures and photographs from 151 museums and other institutions in 40 countries. In a news release, the Nelson-Atkins said that more than 200 of its permanent works are accessible through the project for online visitors. Google Art Project began in February 2011 with about 1,000 artworks from such institutions as the Tate Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.


Some Processors to Label Meat Products Containing 'Lean Finely Textured Beef' Additive 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Some beef processors plan on labeling beef containing the meat product commonly called "pink slime." The USDA says it has received applications for such labeling for the first time and plans on granting approval after it checks labels for accuracy. The USDA says the labeling is a voluntary initiative by companies who want to inform consumers. Some processors who provide the ammonia treated trimmings plan to identify ground beef containing the product with a label that says: "Contains Lean Finely Textured Beef" or a similar statement. Tyson Foods, which buys it and uses it in some products, says controversy surrounding the product has increased demand for beef without it. A spokesman says more people also have recently expressed interest in buying ground beef with the product in it.


KC Police Offering Women's Safety Courses 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are offering a free personal safety seminar for women and girls 16 and older. The four-hour course will be offered April 28 at Paseo Academy and May 5 at the Kansas City Regional Police Academy. Both sessions begin at 8 am. Girls under 18 must be accompanied by an adult, and participation is limited to 50 at each site. The course focuses on awareness, prevention, street-wise caution and self-defense. The classes will feature one hour of classroom instruction and three hours of hands-on training. Information about the seminar and how to register is available on the police department's website.


NWS: Kansas Skies Looked Dangerous Wednesday, but Held No Major Threat

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The National Weather Service says a number of funnel clouds reported around eastern and southern Kansas Wednesday afternoon were spawned by a combination of weak storms and cold  upper air. No tornado watch was posted yesterday (WED) for anywhere in Kansas. Weather Service meteorologist Robb Lawson in Wichita said the funnel clouds seen Wednesday afternoon had not been expected to reach the ground, and did not.


Kansas Board of Healing Arts Seeking Resolution to Abortion Files Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A regulatory board in Kansas is working on an agreement with a former abortion provider over the custody of patient records still in his possession after hundreds of others were found in a Kansas City-area recycling bin. Kelli Stevens, general counsel for the State Board of Healing Arts, told The Associated Press on Thursday that records still held by Krishna Rajanna have been moved to a secure location, which Stevens declined to disclose. Rajanna did not immediately return a telephone message left at his Overland Park home. He confirmed last month that he deposited hundreds of records in a bin near his home, to dispose of old files. The records were from a Kansas City, Kansas clinic that closed in 2005 after the board revoked Rajanna's Kansas medical license.

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


Defense Begins Case in Kansas Cheerleader's Death

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Defense attorneys for a Kansas man accused of killing a 14-year-old girl have begun presenting their case.The defense is trying to raise doubts about the state's case against 38-year-old Adam Longoria of Great Bend. He's charged with killing Alicia DeBolt, whose charred body was found in August 2010 at the asphalt plant where Longoria worked. The first defense witnesses on Thursday testified about various vehicles they saw leaving the asphalt plant in Great Bend during the night the girl disappeared. None of descriptions matched that of the SUV Longoria was driving. But on cross examination, prosecutors pointed out that the county road used by the asphalt plant also is an access point to a river.

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

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