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Regional Headlines for Thursday, July 26, 2012



UPDATE: Google to Offer KC Ultra-Fast Internet for $70 Per Month 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Google says its long-awaited ultra-fast Internet service in Kansas City, intended as a showcase for the future, will cost $70 per month. Google Inc. says it will offer three packages to Kansas City metro area residents, including "gigabit" Internet service — about 100 times faster than cable Internet — for $70 a month and a package with Internet and cable-TV for $120 a month. Google has been adding optical fiber in the two-state Kansas City region for several months, after saying last year that the metro area would be the first in the nation to get its "Fiber for Communities" broadband service. Google says it will offer a slower Internet option with no monthly fee for subscribers who pay a $300 installation fee.


Learjet to Suspend Production of Midsize Plane

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita aircraft maker Bombardier Learjet says it will suspend production of one of its midsize planes sometime this fall. A company spokeswoman told The Wichita Eagle on Thursday the move is prompted by weak demand for light aircraft. Annie Cossette says production of the Learjet 60 XR business jet might resume if the market improves. Cossette says the company is also evaluating the positions of the 275 people who work on the 60 XR. Learjet has more than 3,000 employees at the Wichita plant. The Learjet 60 XR carries up to eight passengers, with a maximum range of about 2,400 nautical miles. The Eagle reports the company delivered 19 of the planes last year and three in the first quarter of this year.


UPDATE: Judge Delays Decision Hawker Beechcraft Bonuses 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A bankruptcy judge wants to hear more arguments before deciding whether to approve Hawker Beechcraft's request to pay eight top executives more than $5.3 million in bonuses. But the judge did allow $1.9 million in bonuses for 31 other lower management-level employees during a hearing Thursday in New York. That's according to machinists union officials at the hearing. The court plans to hear more arguments next month. The Wichita-based plane maker filed for bankruptcy in May. Union spokesman Frank Larkin says the case should be about what's best for the company, its employees and Wichita — not a handful of executives. The company had no immediate comment. Earlier Thursday, the company told the judge its managers were a "talented and capable group" with much work left to do before the company could emerge from bankruptcy.


Report Shows US Drought Rapidly Intensifying

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ A new report shows the drought in the nation's midsection is rapidly intensifying and shows no signs of abating. The U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows the range of the drought in the continental U.S. has increased only slightly in the past week. But the severity is worsening. The report shows that the amount of U.S. land classified in extreme or exceptional drought jumped to more than 20 percent, up 7 percent from last week. More than 63 percent of the continental U.S. is in some stage of drought, a portion unseen since the Drought Monitor started 1999. Illinois is one of the hardest hit states. It saw its percentage of land in extreme or exceptional drought balloon from 8 percent last week to roughly 71 percent this week.


2 Democrats Seek to Oust Congressman Pompeo in 4th District Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two political newcomers are vying in the Democratic primary for the right to challenge incumbent Republican Representative Mike Pompeo for Kansas's 4th District seat in the U.S. House. Neither Robert Tillman nor Esau Freeman has ever held elected office. Both say Congress needs to change, and a new person might help speed those changes. Freeman is self-employed and Tillman is a retired court service officer. Both men live in Wichita. Pompeo, a businessman from Wichita, was first elected to Congress in 2010. The last Democrat to hold the seat was Dan Glickman, who was elected in 1976 but lost to Republican Todd Tiahrt in 1994. The heart of the 4th District is Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, and Sedgwick County, where aviation is the dominant industry.


Heat Could Be Factor in Coming KS Fall Sports Season

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — With the drought intensifying and temperatures well above 100, the Kansas State High School Activities Association is reminding schools about heat guidelines and hydration as fall sports season approaches. The association also has a feature on its website to help school officials calculate the heat index and determine how to address practice or games. Coaches can find out what the heat index is for their location and the risk of injury to athletes. Assistant executive director David Cherry says Thursday more than 90,000 students participate in fall activities, including cheerleaders and musicians. He said local schools and athletic leagues have the authority to adjust the start times of activities if conditions aren't appropriate to protect athletes and fans.


Judge Denies Third Trial for Man Convicted in 1974 Murder

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has rejected a bid for a third trial for a former high school janitor serving a life sentence for the 1974 killing of a 13-year-old Prairie Village girl. Lawyers for John Henry Horton argued that evidence was improperly kept from a Johnson County jury at Horton's second trial in 2008. The Kansas City Star reports that District Judge James Franklin Davis ruled Wednesday the evidence would not have changed the verdict. Horton was convicted in 2004 and again in 2008 of killing Lizabeth Wilson, who was last seen near Shawnee Mission East High School. Horton's first conviction was overturned on appeal. At the 2008 trial, two prison inmates testified that Horton told them he killed the girl accidentally.

Brownback Planning Anniversary Vacation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he's taking a family vacation to celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary, but he and his staff are not disclosing details. The governor let his plans slip Wednesday when he was asked at a news conference if he'll campaign for fellow conservative Republicans before the August 7 primary election. Brownback said the vacation starts Friday and will last the better part of a week. He declined to say where he's going. Spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag also wouldn't provide details, saying the governor and his family want privacy.

Former Defense Secretary Visits KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is heading to Kansas to speak in Lawrence and attend a campaign fundraiser for a U.S. House member. Rumsfeld is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon at a forum at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. Later, he was to attend a fundraiser in Johnson County for Republican Kevin Yoder, who represents the 3rd Congressional District. Before leaving Lawrence, he is scheduled to sign copies of his book "Known and Unknown: A Memoir." Rumsfeld was secretary of defense from 1975 to 1977 under President Gerald Ford and from 2001 to 2006 under President George W. Bush. He also served four terms in the U.S. House as a representative from Illinois in the 1960s.

Kansas Seeks to Halt Releases from 3 Reservoirs

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Drought-stricken Kansas is asking the Corps of Engineers to halt releases of water from three of its small reservoirs for downstream navigation. During a drought conference Wednesday, Governor Sam Brownback asked U.S. Senator Pat Roberts to help get the Corps to stop releases from the Milford, Perry and Tuttle Creek reservoirs while some upstream reservoirs remain at flood stage. The governor also asked Roberts to support expanding the Kanopolis reservoir to hold 2 more feet of storage, which could help central Kansas during a future drought. Brownback says he has allowed pumping from all of the state's fishing lakes to water livestock. Kansas has now declared all 105 counties in a drought emergency, with crop losses projected at $1.5 billion.


Land O' Lakes Recalls Poultry Feed 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Minnesota company has recalled some of its poultry feed products because they lack added vitamin D. Land O'Lakes Purina Feed LLC says in a release Thursday that insufficient vitamin D in a bird's diet for more than a couple of weeks can cause bone problems and other issues in the poultry. The company says there haven't been any reports of illness associated with the products. The recalled products were manufactured between May 23 and July 20 at feed plants in Milford, Indiana; Nashville, Tennessee; and St. Joseph, Missouri. They were sold nationwide under certain Purina and DuMOR poultry feed brand names. The company says more information on the recall can be found online.

UPDATE: Kansas Boy Who Died on Swing Set Identified 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee County Sheriff's office has identified the 3-year-old boy killed in a swing accident in Topeka as Maximus J. Blindt. Maximus died Wednesday in an apparent accident at a day care run by his mother at their home. The Shawnee County sheriff's office went to the home after receiving a call about an unresponsive child. The boy died later at a Topeka hospital. Authorities say it appears the boy became tangled in the frame of the backyard swing set. The sheriff's office says the death doesn't appear to be suspicious but it is being investigated as part of departmental routine. Ten children were at the day care center at the time of the accident.

Man Wants to Withdraw Guilty Pleas in Fatal Crash

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man who was scheduled to be sentenced in a fatal traffic accident in Topeka instead says he wants to withdraw his guilty pleas. Thirty-three-year-old Kody Shane Godfrey surprised those in a Shawnee County courtroom Wednesday when he said he wanted to withdraw guilty pleas to felony first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Godfrey is charged in last November's wreck, which killed 22-year-old Jordan Dodgen of Shawnee and injured five others. Prosecutors say Godfrey sped off when a police officer tried to stop him, eventually crashing into four vehicles at a Topeka intersection. The chase lasted about 30 seconds. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Godfrey's attorneys were given until next Wednesday to file a motion to withdraw the pleas.


Drug Task Force Seizes Herbal Potpourri in Salina

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A drug task force seized herbal potpourri from three Salina businesses, in an effort to ban what police say are dangerous drugs. Salina Police Sergeant Jim Norton says the containers of herbal potpourri were seized Wednesday from Pack Rat Smokes, Food Mart and Pump Mart. He says charges aren't being pursued against the businesses, but the seized products will be held as police evidence. The Salina Journal reports that on Monday, the state declared herbal potpourri containing a chemical substance called UR 144 illegal. Norton says a business that was importing large quantities of the substance and supplying it to other stores was notified of that change on Wednesday. Norton says several people came to the stores to buy herbal potpourri while the task force was seizing the substances.


Suspect in NH Hepatitis C Outbreak Worked in KS, Was Fired in AZ

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Health officials across the country are scrambling to identify thousands of patients who may have been exposed to hepatitis C from a traveling medical technician facing criminal charges in New Hampshire. David Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing anesthetic drugs from Exeter Hospital and contaminating syringes used on patients. Thirty of them have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C that he carries. Testing has been recommended for about 4,700 people in New Hampshire alone, and officials are still determining who needs testing in seven other states, including Arizona, where Kwiatkowski was fired in 2010 after being spotted with drugs he wasn't authorized to administer. Officials have confirmed that Kwiatkowski worked in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania before being hired in New Hampshire last year.


West Nile Worries Grow as Drought Spreads

CHICAGO (AP) _ Hot, dry weather in the Midwest has created the perfect conditions for mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus.
The Culex mosquito breeds in still-damp ditches and underground storm water basins.  Indiana, Ohio and Illinois are reporting higher rates of infected mosquitoes compared with past years. More infected mosquitoes means a higher West Nile risk for humans. Illinois and Oklahoma report earlier-than-usual cases of human infection.  What's more, the dry weather means the pesky floodwater mosquito is scarce. That makes people think mosquitoes aren't a problem and gives the Culex mosquito a chance to sneak up and bite.  Health officials urge people to wear insect repellent though they may not be noticing biting mosquitoes.


210,000 Designer Drug Packets Seized in 6 States

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Six people have been arrested and more than 210,000 packets of synthetic drugs seized in six Midwestern states as part of a nationwide crackdown. The Drug Enforcement Administration on Thursday announced results of Operation Log Jam, targeting synthetic drugs like so-called "bath salts" and fake marijuana, items commonly sold at head shops and some convenience stores and often targeted at teenagers. The DEA says nearly 100 people nationwide were arrested and more than 5 million packets seized. James Shroba of the DEA office in St. Louis says synthetic drugs are a growing problem around the nation, including the six states his office covers — Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota and southern Illinois. He says the crackdown sends a message to manufacturers and sellers that law enforcement is coming after them.


Sprint Loss Widens, but Revenue Beats Estimates 

NEW YORK (AP) — Sprint Nextel's loss widened in the second quarter as the country's third-largest wireless carrier wrote down the value of its moribund Nextel network. However, Sprint was successful in convincing subscribers leaving Nextel to sign up for service on the Sprint network, boosting subscriber figures and revenue, and its stock jumped 14 percent in premarket trading. In the April to June period, Sprint's net loss was $1.37 billion, or 46 cents per share. In the same quarter last year, the loss was $847 million, or 28 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet were on average expecting a loss of 41 cents per share. Revenue at the Overland Park company was $8.84 billion, up 6 percent from a year ago. Analysts were expecting $8.72 billion.

Topeka Hires New City Manager from Arizona

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The City Council in Topeka has chosen an Arizona official as the new city manager. Jim Colson has been deputy city manager since 2009 in Glendale, Arizona a community about 226,000 residents. He'll be the permanent successor to Norton Bonaparte, who served as Topeka city manager from March 2006 until he left in July 2011 under a severance agreement. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday night to grant Colson a two-year contract that pays $170,000 a year. He'll start work in late August. Colson is a native of Michigan. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration as well as master's degrees in theology and urban planning.

Burglar Who Found Woman Dead in Home Sentenced to Prison

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A northeastern Kansas man who stole a neighbor's purse after finding her dead in her home has been sentenced to two years in prison. KCTV reports that 38-year-old Bryan Keylon of Leavenworth was sentenced Wednesday for burglary. He pleaded guilty to the charge in June. Keylon admitted breaking into the 54-year-old woman's home in January 2012 and finding the body in a bedroom. He took her purse, then called 911. Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said the woman was found to have suffered a massive heart attack, and Keylon had nothing to do with the death. Keylon first told police he had simply gone to visit the neighbor. But police concluded it was a burglary after they noticed a broken window and a button that matched a coat belonging to Keylon.


Kansas Father Arrested in Baby's Fatal Abuse

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A southwest Kansas man has been arrested following what authorities are calling the abuse death of his 9-month-old son at a Wichita hospital. Family members took Brandon Villa to a Dodge City hospital on Sunday. He was flown Wesley Medical Center the same day. The Dodge City Police Department was informed of his death early Thursday. The Hutchinson News reports the case is now being investigated as a homicide, although Dodge City Police Chief Craig Mellecker declined to comment on the baby's injuries. Mellecker says the 24-year-old father was arrested Wednesday in Texas County, Oklahoma, on a warrant for abuse of a child. The News reports the father was out of jail on bond in a robbery case when the baby was injured Sunday.


Katie Verbil Breaks Women's Bowling Record

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Katie Verbil had the best three-game score in women's bowling history, finishing with an 879 series in a Battle of the Sexes league competition. A former Wichita State bowler from Phoenix, Verbil opened with 33 consecutive strikes Wednesday night, then left a 10 pin on a solid pocket shot in the 10th frame. The left-hander had games of 300, 300 and 279. She broke the prior record of 878, which was set by Karen Rosenburg of Rolla, Missouri, on December 12, 2001.

Denver to Host Presidential Debate October 3

WASHINGTON (AP) — The committee sponsoring this fall's three presidential debates says the first matchup between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger will be devoted to domestic policy. Foreign policy will be the focus of their third meeting. In between, the candidates will meet for a town hall in which people get to question them on both topics. The lone debate between Vice President Joe Biden and his GOP counterpart also will cover both areas. Obama and likely challenger Mitt Romney are scheduled to debate October 3rd in Denver, Colorado; October 16th in Hempstead, New York; and October 22nd in Boca Raton, Florida. Vice President Joe Biden and his counterpart are to meet October 11th in Danville, Kentucky. The Commission on Presidential Debates has sponsored the official presidential and vice presidential debates since 1988.


Arlington to Mark 125th Anniversary with Big Party

ARLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — The small Reno County town of Arlington is throwing a 125th birthday celebration this weekend. The town of 1,500 people will gather Saturday to remember the town's history. Arlington was founded in 1887, a decade after the Arlington mill was built along the Ninnescah River. The celebration will include a retelling of the town's history by re-enactors. It will also recount the construction of Kansas 61, which linked Arlington to Hutchinson. The Hutchinson News reports plans include a parade, an 1887 variety show and birthday cake and ice cream at the community center.

Jones to Leave KSU Wildcats Basketball Program

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Senior guard Jeremy Jones has left the Kansas State University basketball program. New K-State coach Bruce Weber said in a statement Thursday that he had several discussions with Jones over the past few weeks, and Jones made the decision to leave. The 6-foor-2 Jones played in 20 games for former coach Frank Martin last season, averaging 3.1 points and 8.2 minutes. He scored a season-high 12 points against Oklahoma in January. Jones transferred to Kansas State in May 2011 from Seward County (Kansas) Community College.


Chiefs Sign First-Round Draft Pick Poe

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs have signed first-round pick Dontari Poe on the eve of training camp. The team announced the deal in a statement Thursday. Poe took part in the Chiefs' entire offseason program, despite failing to reach a deal with the team that made him the No. 11 overall selection. Nobody has seemed overly concerned that the negotiations dragged out until the start of training camp. The 6-foot-3, 346-pound Poe is expected to be in St. Joseph, Missouri, for the first workout on Friday. He's being counted on to shore up one of the team's biggest weakness a year ago.

Chiefs Sign Veteran Offensive Lineman Ugoh

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs have signed free agent offensive tackle Tony Ugoh to provide depth along the offensive line. The Chiefs announced the signing Thursday, the same day the team reported to training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri. Their first practice is scheduled for Friday. Ugoh was a second-round draft choice of Indianapolis in 2007, and spent part of the 2010 season with Detroit and last season with the Giants. He's played in 40 games with 28 starts. The 6-foot-5, 301-pound Ugoh should provide some help behind left tackle Branden Albert and right tackle Eric Winston, who was signed as a free agent during the offseason.

Sporting KC's Collin Out with Facial Fractures

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Sporting Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin will miss up to two weeks after sustaining two facial fractures during the MLS All-Star game. Collin was hurt during a collision with Chelsea's Michael Essien near midfield during the game Wednesday night between a team of MLS All-Stars and the Premier League club in Chester, Pennsylvania. Collin played 36 minutes before getting hurt in the MLS team's 3-2 victory. The 26-year-old Frenchman has started all 21 regular-season matches this season, helping Sporting KC to post nine shutouts with a league-leading 0.90 goals-against average. Collin has also scored three goals with an assist.

Google Set to Announce KC Network Plans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Google is planning an announcement in Kansas City about its ultra-high-speed Internet network. The search engine giant has been adding fiber lines in the two-state Kansas City region for several months after saying last year that the metro area would be the first in the nation to get its broadband service. Google says its "Fiber for Communities" service will deliver Internet access 100 times faster than broadband connections offered by telephone and cable companies. Google officials gave no advance notice of what Thursday morning's announcement would involve. But the company has said it hopes its Kansas City service will prod telecommunications and cable providers to upgrade their services in communities nationwide. The company has also said it hopes to offer the service at a competitive price.

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


Child Dies on Swing Set at Kansas Day Care

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 3-year-old boy has died in Topeka after an apparent accident on a swing set at a residential day care center. The Shawnee County sheriff's office says it received a call shortly after noon Wednesday about an unresponsive child at the home. The boy was taken to a Topeka hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Authorities say it appears the boy somehow became tangled in the frame of the backyard swing set. Investigators are looking into how the accident happened. Ten children were at the day care at the time. It's not clear if any of the children witnessed the incident.

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

Union Opposes Hawker Beechcraft Executive Bonuses

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The machinists union is objecting to Hawker Beechcraft's request in its bankruptcy filing for more than $5.3 million in bonuses to eight top executives. In a filing Wednesday, the union criticized what it called the "complete irony and hypocrisy" of the Wichita airplane maker's request for the bonuses while rank-and-file jobs are lost and the company seeks to eliminate pension plans. A hearing on the bonus request is scheduled Thursday in federal bankruptcy court in New York City. Hawker Beechcraft contends the bonus plan recognizes the critical role of certain employees in the bankruptcy process. The company says retaining those executives is crucial to the ongoing business and bankruptcy restructuring. Union officials also are opposing an additional $1.9 million in bonuses to 31 other management-level employees.

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


UPDATE: Hawker Beechcraft Defends Bonus Plan for Top Execs 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hawker Beechcraft is defending its plan to pay more than $5.3 million in bonuses to eight top executives. Company officials say the executives are talented and have much work left to do before the company can emerge from bankruptcy. The company told the bankruptcy judge in a document filed Thursday — just hours before a hearing — that its executives must continue to pursue a possible company sale to a Chinese firm and a plan for a reorganized standalone company. The document notes that the company has yet to shut down its business jet operations, which would include closing facilities and cutting the workforce, under the standalone proposal. The Justice Department's bankruptcy watchdog and the machinists union have filed objections to the bonus plan.

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

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