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Regional Headlines for Thursday, October 4, 2012



Lockdown Continues at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Inmates at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth are being allowed out of their cells but must remain in their housing units as a lockdown started on Saturday continued. Prison spokesman Thomas Sheldrake says the inmates were able to get out of their cells Wednesday to have access to showers, phones and email. The lockdown began after three fights in one housing units and two large groups assembled in the recreation yard. The fights were quickly contained and only minor injuries were reported. The Leavenworth Times reports Sheldrake said the incidents apparently were isolated events. The lockdown is in effect only at the main prison. Normal operations continue at the nearby prison camp.


Kansas Labor Secretary Filed Discrimination Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Public records show that interim Kansas Labor Secretary Lana Gordon filed an age and gender discrimination complaint against a former employer two months before taking the state job. Gordon's complaint against ISS Facility Services was still open Thursday before the Kansas Human Rights Commission. Gordon, also a former legislator, filed the complaint in July. The complaint alleges that a manager in the company's Topeka office verbally abused Gordon because of her age and gender from August 2011 until she was fired as an account representative in March. Gordon did not immediately respond to an interview request made through her spokeswoman at the Department of Labor. ISS officials in Topeka declined comment. Governor Sam Brownback appointed Gordon interim labor secretary last month, replacing then-Secretary Karin Brownlee.


Kobach: Photo IDs from Public Schools OK at Polls

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says 18-year-old voters who attend public high schools can show their school identification at the polls to satisfy the state's new photo ID requirement. But students from private high schools are out of luck. Kobach says his office has received many questions about whether various types of photo IDs are acceptable since the law he championed took effect in January. On Wednesday, Kobach said it would be most fair to treat photo IDs from public and private high schools the same. But he noted the new law specifically requires IDs issued by government agencies, which arguably includes school districts. Kobach says his office is drafting regulations to give more guidance but will allow students to use public school IDs at the polls November 6.

Topeka Activist Seeks Kobach Recall

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka activist says he'll start circulating petitions later this month for an election to recall Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Sonny Scroggins has been holding small protests against Kobach for several weeks. Scroggins contends Kobach should be ousted over several issues. The concerns include Kobach's work on immigration issues that regularly takes him out of state and his advocacy of a new state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Fellow activist Frank Smith says Kobach is trying to suppress voter turnout. Kobach argues the photo ID law will prevent election fraud and says the issues raised by Scroggins and Smith were aired during his successful 2010 campaign. Under Kansas law, recall proponents must gather signatures from nearly 83,000 registered voters to force an election.


10-Foot Sculpture Stolen from Topeka Church

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police are looking for a 10-foot-tall bronze statue called "Forgiven Man" after it was stolen from a church. The statue was stolen early Wednesday from a memorial garden in front of the First Congregational Church. Police say they received a call from a witness who saw two men load the statue into a pickup truck. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports police say the bronze statue is worth $10,000. The thieves also did about $400 damage to a concrete bench and sign at the church. The church's pastor, Tobias Schlingensiepen, says he believes the statue is worth more than $10,000. Schlingensiepen is the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Congressional District seat. But he says he's sure the theft had nothing to do with politics.

Janitor Arrested in Kansas State Thefts

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A janitor at Kansas State University is suspected of stealing thousands of dollars' worth of computers and other electronics from offices in and around the plant sciences building. WIBW-TV reports the 33-year-old janitor remained in the Riley County jail on $20,000 bond Wednesday, one day after he was arrested on campus. University and Riley County police searched the janitor's Manhattan home and another house in the city. Officers reported finding large amounts of stolen property as well as drugs, cash and a gun. Kansas State police Captain Don Stubbings says authorities are sorting through the recovered items and trying to match them with their rightful owners. Investigators said the thefts in and around Throckmorton Hall had been going on for months.


Tabor/McPherson Football Game Cancelled Following Player's Death

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — Tabor College and McPherson College have canceled their upcoming football game as an investigation continues into the beating death of a Tabor player. The schools jointly announced Thursday that the October 20 game was canceled to honor 26-year-old Brandon Brown, who died in September after being found beaten on a McPherson street. Two former McPherson football players, Alton Franklin and DeQuinte Flournoy, both 19, have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder in Brown's death. Their preliminary hearing has been moved to October 29. A joint statement from the presidents of both colleges said the cancellation would also respect the ongoing criminal investigation. The schools are planning several events in the coming year to help students deal with Brown's death and to develop harmony between the two campuses.


Kansas Man Dies after Being Stunned with Taser Gun 

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. (AP) — A 32-year-old northeast Kansas man died after police used a Taser gun on him while he tried to flee. Osawatomie police say Travis L. Maupin died at the Miami County Medical Center Thursday morning. Police say Maupin had barricaded himself inside a home after police arrived to investigate a report of domestic violence. He came out of the home but ran when paramedics checked the woman for injuries. Officers chased him for about a block and used the Taser on him when he resisted. Osawatomie police asked the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to look into the death.


Kansas Supreme Court to Rule on Damages Cap

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court is preparing to rule on a challenge to the state's 1988 law that limits damages for pain and suffering in civil lawsuits at $250,000. The court says it will issue a decision Friday in the case of Eudora resident Amy Miller, who filed a medical malpractice lawsuit after her doctor removed the wrong ovary in 2002. A jury in Douglas County District Court awarded Miller almost $760,000 in damages. The award included $400,000 for current and future non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. Because state law limits damages for non-economic losses, the judge reduced that part of the verdict to $250,000. Miller's attorneys contend the cap violates her constitutional rights. Business and medical groups are supporting the law in friend-of-the-court filings.

Mystery Substance Causes Headaches in Salina

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A chemical odor that caused headaches in a north Salina neighborhood has been traced to a 55-gallon drum inside a shed. But the substance inside the drum remained a mystery Wednesday. The Salina Journal reports that firefighters went to the area Tuesday evening but were unable to pinpoint the odor. Several residents were evacuated as a precaution, and Kansas Gas Service crews worked through the night but also couldn't find the source. Residents complained of the odor and headaches again Wednesday. The Fire Department's hazardous materials team went house-to-house and came across the drum. But authorities were unable to identify the substance inside. Haz-mat crews were packing the drum Wednesday into a safe container. The contents will be analyzed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.


2nd Hays Patient Sues over Hepatitis C Diagnosis

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A second patient at Hays Medical Center is suing after contracting a strain of hepatitis C linked to a traveling hospital technician. Tom Walters of rural Catharine filed a lawsuit Monday against a Pennsylvania hospital and two medical staffing agencies. The lawsuit contends the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center was negligent for not reporting that technician David Kwiatkowski allegedly stole and used narcotics in 2008. Walters contracted hepatitis C while being treated at Hays Medical Center in 2010, when Kwiatkowski was working there. Kwiatkowski has denied allegations that he spread the disease. The Hays Daily News reports four of 474 patients treated at Hays tested positive for a hepatitis C strain similar to one carried by Kwiatkowski.


KU Receives $20M for New Business School Building

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is receiving a $20 million gift to help finance a new building for its School of Business. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the gift is from the Capitol Federal Foundation, affiliated with the Topeka-based Capitol Federal Savings Bank. The gift represents about one-third of the estimated $60 million cost of constructing a new building for the business school. School of Business Dean Neeli Bendapudi said the school hopes to build a six-story, 165,000 square foot building near Allen Fieldhouse. Construction could begin by early 2014. The business school is now in Summerfield Hall, which opened in 1960. Capitol Federal Chairman and CEO John Dicus said that business schools are often a point of pride at universities across the nation.


Artist Upset over Removal of Anti-Brownback Artwork

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence artist is upset that a print critical of Governor Sam Brownback has been taken down at a Topeka cafe. The stencil print by Dave Loewenstein shows Brownback with tears in his eyes, with flames behind him. The governor is saying "Kansans pleeease ... stop me." The owner of the building that houses the Blue Planet Cafe, Greg Ready, says he removed the print out of respect for Brownback's daughter, who works at a photo business above the cafe. Ready says his decision was not a political statement. He also says that Liz Brownback did not ask that the print be taken off display. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Loewenstein is calling it censorship. He says Ready misinterpreted the print, which was to be part of an exhibit featured this Friday.


Drought Worsens in Some Key Midwest Farming States

A weekly drought report shows that conditions have worsened in some key Midwestern farming states where the corn harvest is more than halfway completed. The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows that more than 93 percent of the state of Kansas is in extreme or exceptional drought. That's up about five percent in the past week. Nearly 98 percent of neighboring Nebraska falls into the two most severe drought categories, as well. And 75 percent of Iowa is also enduring extreme or exceptional drought. Overall, drought conditions in the lower 48 states remained relatively unchanged in the last week. 


Union Urges Bombardier Workers to Reject Contract, Approve Strike

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Machinists union in Wichita is urging members to reject Bombardier's proposed five-year labor contract and vote to strike. The union represents 825 hourly workers at the Bombardier Learjet plant. The Wichita Eagle reports that union members are scheduled to vote Saturday on a contract that offers no raises the first year and a 1 percent raise in each of the four following years. Machinists union spokesman Bob Wood told the newspaper Thursday the offer retains the pension plan, but increases health care costs. But Wood says the main sticking point is the company's proposal for a five-year contract. The Machinists prefer a three-year agreement.


Wichita Man Gets 14-Year Sentence for Fatal Crash

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison for causing a fatal car accident while fleeing from police. The Wichita Eagle reports 30-year-old Greg Berry was sentenced Thursday for the November 2004 crash that killed 55-year-old Vicki Brown of Haysville. Prosecutors say Berry was fleeing from a Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy when he caused the wreck at a Wichita intersection. Berry was convicted of first-degree murder in August 2005. But the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction, saying the jury should been able to consider lesser charges. He was convicted in August of second-degree murder, possession of cocaine and unlawful possession of a firearm.


Triumph Foods Expanding St. Joseph Plant

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Triumph Foods in St. Joseph says it's expanding its plant with a 30,000-square-foot addition. The pork processing company announced the $9.5 million investment Thursday and says construction will begin within the next 30 days. KQTV reports Triumph plans to add about 30 jobs as part of the expansion. The company now has about 2,800 workers at the St. Joseph operation. Triumph's chief administrative officer, Patt Lilly, says the additional refrigerated space is needed to keep up with demand for its products.

Retiring GOP Kansas Lawmaker Endorses Democratic Nominee

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) — A moderate GOP Kansas state senator has endorsed the Democratic candidate over a conservative Republican in a Kansas City-area district. Senator John Vratil, of Leawood, has served in the chamber since 1998 but isn't seeking re-election. He's the Senate vice president. Vratil said Wednesday he supports Democrat Mike Delaney of Overland Park in the 11th Senate District race because he views Delaney as a strong supporter of public schools. Delaney is running against conservative Republican Jeff Melcher of Leawood, who has the backing of Governor Sam Brownback and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Melcher said Vratil's action confirms that he and his moderate allies are out of step with most Republicans. In the August 7 GOP primary, Melcher defeated Vratil's preferred candidate, state Representative Pat Colloton of Leawood.

Dodge City Domestic Violence Shelter Reopens

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — A southwestern Kansas shelter for victims of domestic and sexual violence has reopened after months of repairs. The Crisis Center of Dodge City was forced to close its shelter when the summer heat wave caused the air conditioning unit to malfunction. The staff took the opportunity to also do repairs and deep cleaning. The safe house reopened Monday. The Dodge City shelter is the only safe house of its kind in the area. Other crisis programs in Great Bend, Liberal and Garden City stepped in to provide services while the Dodge City facility was closed. The Crisis Center of Dodge City provides free advocacy services to abuse victims in Ford, Hodgeman, Clark, Meade and Gray counties. Its services and safe houses are available 24 hours a day.

Joplin Man Sentenced in Kansas Man's Death

GIRARD, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man was sentenced to nearly 27 years in prison for killing a Kansas man during a botched robbery attempt. Twenty-three-year-old Rickey R. Smith was sentenced Wednesday to 26 years and 10 months in prison for second-degree murder in the shooting death of 21-year-old Ryan Bailey in October 2011. Smith was one of four Joplin men charged in Bailey's death. In a plea deal in January, Smith admitted that he shot Bailey during an attempted robbery at Bailey's home in Pittsburg. Oscar C. DeLeon Jr. and Randu Rivera, both 19, pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder and were each sentenced to 14 years and four months in prison. The Joplin Globe reports the fourth defendant, Nathan D. Whitney, is being held in Missouri in a different case.

Preliminary Hearing for Kansas Ex-Deputy Delayed

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A court hearing has been delayed for a former Sedgwick County corrections officer accused of sexually assaulting jail inmates. The preliminary hearing to determine if there's enough evidence to send former deputy David Kendall to trial had been set for Thursday. It's now scheduled for November 14. Kendall resigned in late June and is facing 12 criminal charges ranging from felony aggravated criminal sodomy to misdemeanor sexual battery. Eleven of the charges accuse him of sex crimes against six inmates from April to June. Kendall is free on bond. His lawyer has attacked the credibility of the inmates who lodged the complaints.


Missouri Principal Resigns after Prostitution Sting

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — The principal of a northwest Missouri high school has resigned after being arrested in a prostitution sting. KCTV reports 37-year-old Patrick N. Martin resigned Monday, citing personal reasons. Martin was given a misdemeanor citation after he was arrested on Sept. 26. Police allege Martin was arrested after he met a woman at a hotel and agreed to pay for sex acts. The woman was a Kansas City police detective. The meeting was arranged through an Internet ad soliciting a date. Platte County Superintendent Mike Reik. Alan Burch was named interim principal.

PETA Withdraws Kansas State Fair Lawsuit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An animal-rights group has withdrawn its lawsuit against the Kansas State Fair. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said in the lawsuit that fair officials were restricting the group's free speech rights by requiring it to shield people from seeing images of animal slaughter at its booth. Just days before the fair opened last month, a federal judge ruled fair officials could reasonably impose the restrictions. A dismissal entered Wednesday in federal court shows that PETA and the state will pay their own costs and attorneys' fees from the complaint. PETA said in an email that it is pleased with the outcome. It says the fair's censorship and the lawsuit drove traffic to its fair booth to discuss its message about cruelty to animals on farms and during slaughter.

No. 7 Wildcats Finding Balance Through the Air

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — In a league of high-powered offenses that love to air it out, Kansas State is a misfit. The number 7-ranked Wildcats would prefer, in the words of University of Kansas coach Charlie Weis, to "ram it down your throat every single play." But an improved passing game has made the Wildcats more balanced, and more difficult to stop. They've already thrown for 758 yards through four games, an increase of nearly 50 percent over last year, and quarterback Collin Klein is completing about 70 percent of his throws. He's connected on 15 plays of at least 20 yards, more than double this point last season. But as long as Bill Snyder is at the helm, Kansas State isn't likely to abandon its steady, clock-eating approach in favor of a full-on shootout mentality.

Smithsonian to Lend Dorothy's Ruby Slippers to London Museum

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dorothy's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" are leaving Washington on their first international journey to London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Judy Garland wore the shoes in the 1939 film in which she played a Kansas farm girl on a magical journey. The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History announced the rare loan of its popular slippers Thursday. They will be shown with Dorothy's blue-and-white gingham dress in "Hollywood Costume," an exhibit opening October 20 in London. Curators say it's the first time Dorothy's dress and shoes have been together since the movie was filmed. To make the slippers, a designer dyed the shoes red and attached netting to cover them with red sequins. The Smithsonian plans to hold a departure ceremony Tuesday.


Kansas City Royals Finish Another Year with Losing Record 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The season began with the Kansas City Royals using the slogan, "Our Time," a reference to the young and enthusiastic players who have slowly come up through their farm system. There were expectations of the first winning season in eight years and, if everything worked out just right, the first playoff appearance since 1985, to end the longest playoff drought in the major leagues. The AL Central division appeared up for grabs, and the Royals were ready to seize their opportunity. Then reality hit: Injuries piled up before the season began, a 12-game losing streak forced them to dig out of a hole, and things never got on track for some of those key young players. The result was a 72-90 season and fresh promises to rebuild.


Royals Part Ways with Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have chosen not to renew the contract of hitting coach Kevin Seitzer after the team finished 72-90 for its ninth consecutive losing season. General manager Ned Yost and general manager Dayton Moore announced the decision shortly after meeting with Seitzer on Thursday. Kansas City wrapped up its season with a 1-0 loss to the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night. Seitzer worked with a team that put together a .265 average this season, seventh-best in baseball, but struggled to score. Kansas City finished 20th in runs scored. Yost said the composition of the batting lineup lends itself to developing power, while Seitzer's forte is hitting for average. Yost said he expects the next hitting coach to come from within the organization.


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