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Regional Headlines for Thursday, July 5, 2012




FEC Fines Kansas GOP for Finance Violation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Federal Election Commission has fined the Kansas Republican Party $6,500 for violating campaign finance law. The FEC concluded that the Kansas GOP incorrectly reported receipts, disbursements and cash totals during the 2007-2008 election cycle. The commission also found that many documents submitted to the FEC during the period overstated the amount of money the state party organization had. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach chaired the state party at the time. Kobach told The Topeka Capital-Journal the fine was "relatively small" and that he believes the flawed accounting was unintentional. The FEC issued the fine in February but didn't release details until Tuesday at the newspaper's request. Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas GOP, says the organization was "very pleased" with the settlement.


Judges Move to Reduce State Costs in Kansas Remapping Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The legal bills facing Kansas from a federal lawsuit over political redistricting may not be as big as state officials initially feared. Three federal judges have moved to limit the amount of legal expenses that parties who sued the state can have covered by taxpayers. Nineteen plaintiffs are asking to have nearly $700,000 in legal bills covered. Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday they're pleased by the judges' order this week limiting what can be covered by the state, although the final amount will be set later. The judges drew new congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts last month after the Legislature failed to do so. The districts must be redrawn every 10 years to account for population changes.


Grassfire Prompts Evacuations in West Lawrence  

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Crews are monitoring the remnants of a large grassfire that forced the temporary evacuation of residents in a west Lawrence neighborhood. The fire was reported around 10 am Thursday just east of the South Lawrence Trafficway. Lawrence Police Sergeant Trent McKinley said residents in a two-block stretch were evacuated because the fire was threatening homes. The fire was also close to Langston Hughes Elementary School, which is closed for the summer. McKinley says crews from Lawrence and the surrounding area had the fire controlled shortly after noon. Crews were staying on the scene to put water on hot spots. No significant structural damage or injuries were reported. McKinley says the cause of the fire was unknown.

Kansas Man Dies after Fireworks Show

LANSING, Kan. (AP) _ A northeast Kansas park is closed while police investigate the explosion death of a man who was helping clean up after a community fireworks show.  KCTV reports the 44-year-old Lansing man was a volunteer at Wednesday night's Fourth of July fireworks display at Kenneth W. Bernard Community Park.  Lansing police said he and others were disposing of fireworks that had not discharged when one of the devices exploded near him.  A crowd of about 3,500 people who attended the show had already left the park when the man was killed.  The death is being investigated as an accident. The man's name has not been released.


Jail Inmates Captured Following Escape

MEADE, Kan. (AP) — Three inmates of a southwest Kansas jail are back in custody after beating a guard, stealing his keys and making a brief escape. KWCH-TV reports other inmates at the Meade County jail helped the guard after he was beaten, stomped and kicked around 10 p.m. Wednesday. The guard was taken to a hospital in Wichita. The sheriff says one inmate was arrested north of the town of Meade. Another was picked up after a short chase farther north. The third was captured after a chase on U.S. 54 that ended when he drove off the highway and hit railroad tracks. He was taken into custody in Bucklin, about 40 miles west of Meade.

Fort Riley Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Riley soldier from Idaho has been killed in Afghanistan. The Defense Department says 24-year-old Private First Class Cody Moosman died Tuesday of injuries he suffered when his unit was attacked with small-arms fire in Paktika province, near the border with Pakistan. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran says Moosman was on guard duty at the time. He was assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Moosman was from the southeastern Idaho town of Preston. His family issued a statement Wednesday saying he told them starting in the third grade that he had wanted to be in the Army. He enlisted in 2010.

High Court Ruling May Affect Kansas Tribal Land Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legal fight over the Wyandotte Nation's efforts to build a Park City casino could be swayed by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month in a different case. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Tuesday ordered both the state and Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar to address the impact of the June 18 high court opinion in a case involving acquisition of land in trust for Indian tribes. Robinson wants written arguments on how the decision affects Salazar's request to dismiss the state's claims. Kansas is seeking an injunction prohibiting the Interior Department from acquiring Park City land into trust. Kansas intervened after the Wyandotte Nation sued to force the Interior Department to accept Park City land the tribe bought in 1992 into trust.


Kansas Sheriff: Possible Break Seen in Pharmacy Burglaries 

JETMORE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities investigating a string of burglaries at pharmacies in southwestern Kansas and northwest Oklahoma say they may have a break in the case. KAKE-TV reports the Hodgeman County sheriff's department arrested four people this week following reports of suspicious activity near a pharmacy in Jetmore, about 20 miles north of Dodge City. Officials said the suspects are from the Dodge City area, and are in their mid-20s to early 30s. Two were arrested after a traffic stop and another while running from the scene. The fourth suspect was arrested when he tried to contact the others after they were taken into custody. Investigators believe the thieves are responsible for at least 19 burglaries since January in which painkillers were stolen from pharmacies and sold on the street.


Kansas Health Officials Lift Advisory for Creek

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — State officials have lifted a health advisory for a south-central Kansas creek that was contaminated last month by a sewage leak. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Thursday lifted the advisory for Eight Mile Creek in Butler and Cowley counties after taking water samples that showed bacteria concentrations in the creek are back to acceptable levels. The Wichita Eagle reports that KDHE issued the health advisory June 25, a day after finding that a pump station equipment failure resulted in untreated sewage being dumped into a tributary of the creek. It's unclear how much untreated water leaked into the waterway, but officials estimate the release lasted about a day.


Heat-Related Death Reported in Northwest Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say the death of a 43-year-old man in northwest Kansas was heat-related, making it the state's third such fatality this year. The state Department of Health and Environment confirmed Thursday that the latest heat-related death was reported last week but declined to provide additional details to protect the victim's privacy. The state's other two heat-related deaths occurred in May. Health department officials also said hospitals have voluntarily reported about 40 heat-related injuries and illnesses since the beginning of June. High temperatures in northwest Kansas have hit or exceeded 100 degrees for most of the past two weeks, and Governor Sam Brownback has declared a drought emergency in the western third of the state, including northwest Kansas. 

Drought Affecting NW Kansas Cattle Producers

LA CROSSE, Kan. (AP) _ Cattle producers in parts of drought-stricken Kansas are running short of ways to feed and water their herds. And that has some producers thinking about taking their herds to market.  At La Crosse Livestock, a sale barn in northwestern Kansas, owner Frank Seidel tells The Hays Daily News he's planning four full days of cattle sales in July instead of the usual two. Seidel says he's hearing from cattlemen about the lack of grass almost daily. Pastures are parched, some producers have depleted their hay supplies, and the drought's effects are already evident on some crops intended as winter feed. Stock ponds are a critical problem in some places.  Cattleman Chase Rogers says that of seven ponds on about 700 acres he uses south of Ellis, only one has water.


3rd KCK Officer Sentenced after Sting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A third member of a Kansas City, Kansas police unit has been sentenced to eight months in federal prison for stealing electronics from houses during searches. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says 34-year-old Dustin Sillings also has to serve one year of supervised release for violating a federal civil rights law. He was sentenced Thursday. Sillings and two other members of the Police Department's Selective Crime Occurrence Reduction Enforcement Unit were charged after a sting operation in January 2011. Thirty-two-year-old Darrell M. Forrest has been sentenced to 12 months and a day in prison, and 34-year-old Jeffrey M. Bell was sentenced earlier to eight months behind bars. Sillings admitted stealing $340 in cash from the sting house and five or six video games during other searches.

Luke Bryan Among MLB All-Star Game Performers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Stars are lining up for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game next week in Kansas City. Country singer Luke Bryan will sing the national anthem and country artist Kellie Pickler will perform "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch. Before the game, "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips is planning a special on-field performance of his song "Home." A tribute will play during the song that highlights tornado recovery efforts in nearby Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Habitat for Humanity is building nine new homes for low-income families in those areas. All three performances as well as the All-Star Game will air Tuesday on Fox. The night before, Missouri native David Cook will sing the national anthem before the Home Run Derby. It will air on ESPN along with a previously announced on-field performance from the Zac Brown Band.


Missouri Governor Signs License Plate, Higher Ed Funding Bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — No University of Kansas Jayhawks will be appearing on Show-Me State license plates — at least unless Missouri lawmakers say it's OK. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law Thursday a broader higher education measure that would require state lawmakers to approve specialty license plates for colleges and universities. State lawmakers were seeking to impede possible efforts by fans to have the University of Kansas featured on a Missouri license plate. Besides license plates, the higher education legislation also creates a new state fund to help finance construction at public colleges and universities. The proposed Higher Education Capital Fund would provide state matching funds for capital improvement projects at public colleges and universities. The schools would raise their share of the money through private donations or grants.


Fire Erupts at Pennsylvania Arena, Site of Wilt Chamberlain's 100-Point Game

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) — A fire has broken out at the historic central Pennsylvania arena where Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points. Officials say the fire started Thursday afternoon at the west end of the 75-year-old Hersheypark Arena in Derry Township. The arena is owned by Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, founded when Milton S. Hershey separated his chocolate manufacturing from his other businesses. Hershey spokesman Jim Shellenberger says workers were putting a new roof on the domed building, but it's unclear if the work had anything to do with the fire. He says the roof isn't in danger of collapse. Workers have left the arena. No injuries are reported. The arena opened in 1936 and is primarily used for youth hockey. Chamberlain scored 100 points there for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962.

Wichita OKs Bonds for Bombardier, Cessna

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two of Wichita's largest plane makers have gotten a boost from city leaders for their plans to diversify products and expand their operations. The Wichita City Council approved on a 6-0 vote bond issues Tuesday for Bombardier Learjet and Cessna Aircraft. The Wichita Eagle reported that Bombardier Learjet had sought up to $5.9 million in industrial revenue bonds to help finance capital investments. Its $52.7 million expansion features a flight test center, a center for engineering and information technology, as well as new facilities for paint and a new delivery center. The expansion makes room for the Learjet 85 and is expected to bring 450 jobs to Wichita. Cessna had sought the reinstatement of a 2006 letter of intent that has an unused balance of more than $521 million.

Kansas Leaders Face Choice on Medicaid Expansion

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas leaders will decide whether to expand the state's Medicaid program after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision that would have made such growth mandatory. The Affordable Care Act required states to expand their Medicaid programs to include all non-elderly residents with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That would mean a family of four with an income of about $30,000 would qualify for the program. Last week the high court struck down the Medicaid requirement, making expansion optional. A Kansas Health Institute spokeswoman told the Lawrence Journal-World that expansion would qualify about 151,000 more of the state's uninsured for Medicaid. The Brownback administration is opposed to the ACA and is pushing to have it repealed.

Police: Soldier's Tale Shows Bath Salt Dangers

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County police are using a recent incident involving a Fort Riley soldier to illustrate the potential dangers of using bath salts to get high. Police received a call Monday morning about a man who was behaving strangely after apparently ingesting the substance, which drug agents say is being distributed in the area. Police spokesman Lieutenant Josh Kyle told The Topeka Capital Journal officers arrived at the undisclosed Manhattan location and found the 22-year-old active military man "acting in a bizarre fashion." Kyle says the soldier initially acted as if he were drunk, but then became paranoid and started making strange religious statements. Kyle says it doesn't appear the man, who was taken to a hospital for treatment, would face any criminal charges.

Woman Says She Was Assaulted During Traffic Stop

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. (AP) — A young woman says she was sexually assaulted along an eastern Kansas highway by a man claiming to be a law enforcement officer. The Kansas City Star reports the 18-year-old woman told police a man driving a white Crown Victoria with lights on the front dash pulled her over before 10 pm Monday on U.S. 69 in Miami County. She says the man was in his early to mid-20s, 5-feet-9 inches tall or shorter, and wearing a Polo-type shirt with a law enforcement badge sewn onto the chest. She also described him as having a mustache and goatee, with a gun and badge on his belt. Osawatomie police are asking for anyone who might have witnessed the alleged assault to contact them at 913-755-2101.


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