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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, April 9, 2013



Kansas 2014 Budget in Flux Until Tax Plan Settled

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are on a monthlong break, having left behind a budget still considered a work in progress and more possible changes to the state tax code. Lawmakers adjourned late Friday having approved several issues after more than a week of negotiations. But many of the spending cuts favored by majority Republicans remain in play. One area is higher education. The Senate is recommending a 4 percent cut for state universities and community colleges. The House favors a 2 percent cut. The Legislature returns to work May 8th. Republican leaders say the budget picture will come into focus before then, with the release of a new estimate of state revenue. The revenue report also will help settle the debate on further cuts in Kansas income taxes.


Kansas Abortion Rights Activists Deliver Petitions

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group of abortion rights activists delivered about 1,600 signed petitions to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's office urging him not to sign legislation that puts new restrictions on abortion. Legislators passed a bill late Friday that declares life begins at fertilization, while blocking tax breaks for abortion providers and banning abortions performed solely because of the baby's sex. The group presenting the petitions Tuesday included representative from the Kansas National Organization for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, the Mainstream Coalition and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. A spokeswoman for Brownback said the governor hasn't received the bill in his office but is expected to sign it. The governor opposes abortion and has signed numerous bills restricting abortion since taking office in 2011.

Report: Corn Planting Begins in Eastern Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers are getting ready to seed their spring crops, with a few fields of corn already planted in eastern sections. Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service provided the update in a weekly report Monday that also said spring calving is nearly finished in the state. Livestock producers are still worried about having enough stock water. Supplies are reported as "adequate" in just 36 percent of Kansas. South-central Kansas got some welcome rain in the past week. But drought-stricken pastures have yet to recover statewide, with 77 percent now reported in poor to very poor condition. The agency also says 31 percent of the winter wheat crop is in poor to very poor condition. About 38 percent is reported in fair shape, with 29 percent rated good and 2 percent in excellent condition.

Kansas Education Board Set to Approve History Standards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The State Board of Education is preparing to approve changes in the material that Kansas students are expected to know in history, government and social studies. The new standards were developed over the past two years for kindergarten through high school. Kansas students would be asked to better understand the context of what they learn, not just memorize names and dates. Board members will adopt the changes at their April 16 meeting in Topeka. The new standards replace those that had been in place for Kansas schools since 2004. Students will take tests based on the standards starting in 2016. Local school boards will be responsible for developing and approving curriculum that follows the new standards, including the purchase of textbooks.

Spring Storm Hits Western Kansas

GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) — A spring storm moving into western and northern Kansas is packing high winds, freezing drizzle and some snow. The National Weather Service on Tuesday issued a winter weather advisory for several counties in western and northern Kansas. Forecasts call for light snow across the region, with freezing drizzle and winds gusts from about 30 mph to about 55 mph. Forecasts also called for 1 to 2 inches of snow, but the snow and high winds were expected to end by late Tuesday. Sam Beeson, dispatcher for the Cheyenne County Sheriff's Department in northwest Kansas, says roads in that area were icing up early Tuesday. He says there were reports of tornadoes in the area late Monday and early Tuesday, but no damage or injuries were reported.

Suspect Arrested in Manhattan Homicide

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County police say a 22-year-old Fort Riley soldier was killed in a shooting at a Manhattan apartment during the weekend. Police say Micheal T. Lowery died in the shooting Sunday. Three other people — two 23-year-old women and another Fort Riley soldier — were hospitalized. A man, woman and a 1-year-old child were at the scene but were not injured. KMAN reports that a 43-year-old suspect was arrested and is currently jailed on $2 million bond. Police did not say provide any further details of the shooting.

Ex-Con Pleads Guilty to Topeka Rapes, Robberies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has pleaded guilty to 40 counts of rape, robbery and other charges stemming from a string of holdups in the city last year. Twenty-seven-year-old Arthur Crain the Third will face at least 21 years in prison at his sentencing in May, on the same day he was to have gone on trial. He entered the pleas Monday in Shawnee County District Court. Crain was released from prison in January 2012 after serving time for armed robbery. He was arrested in late August, about six weeks after the robberies began. The victims included individuals and stores, with female employees in some cases being sexually assaulted. The charges to which Crain pleaded guilty included two rapes, three sexual batteries and 15 aggravated burglaries.


Trial Begins in Tabor College Player's Death

McPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — Jurors heard conflicting accounts of what happened during a fight outside a drinking party that led to the death of a 26-year-old Tabor College football player. The Hutchinson News reports that McPherson County Attorney David Page told jurors during opening arguments Monday that former McPherson College football player Alton Franklin spotted Brandon Brown outside of the party in September and attacked him. Prosecutors contend Franklin punched Brown in the head while another player held him down. But defense attorney David Harger denies his client hit Brown while he was on the ground. He told jurors they would have to determine if Franklin's actions were anything other than self-defense or defense of others. The 19-year-old Dallas man is charged with second-degree murder for unintentionally but recklessly killing Brown.

Burglars Break into Manhattan Mausoleum

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Manhattan police are trying to determine why someone broke into the mausoleum of a prominent Manhattan family. The burglars caused about $10,000 damage during the weekend break-in at the Wareham family mausoleum at Sunset Cemetery but they apparently did not steal anything. The burglars pried off the marble facing William Wareham's crypt and damaged the copper casing around his casket. Police spokesman Matt Droge says it appeared the burglars tried to open the copper casket but they were unsuccessful. Burglars also broke into the mausoleum in April 2012 but didn't take anything. The Manhattan Mercury reports that William Wareham was the brother of H.P. Wareham, generally regarded as the greatest entrepreneur in the city's history. H.P. is also buried in the mausoleum.


Kansas Security Guard Accidentally Fires Gun; 1 Hurt

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a private security guard at an El Dorado apartment complex accidentally discharged his gun and hurt a person working in an adjoining room. The El Dorado Police Department said Tuesday an 18-year-old college student suffered a minor injury while working in the adjacent media room Monday evening. The guard told investigators from the El Dorado Police Department that he was handling his firearm while on duty in the office area when it accidently discharged. The shot apparently damaged a computer, some furniture and went through the walls separating the office from a media room. Police say their investigation continues. The security guard was questioned and released pending the county attorney reviewing the case for possible charges.


Suspect in Nebraska Fatal Shooting Arrested in Kansas

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A suspect in a fatal Omaha shooting last weekend turned himself into police in Kansas. Omaha police say 22-year-old LaMichael Fewell was arrested Tuesday in Junction City, Kansas after a warrant was issued. He faces charges of using a gun to commit second-degree murder. Police say Fewell is a suspect in the shooting death of 23-year-old Jer'ray Moore. Officers found Moore outside an apartment complex in central Omaha Saturday with a gunshot wound. Moore died later at a hospital. Fewell will be extradited from Kansas to face the charges.


KC Woman Arrested a 4th Time for Cat Hoarding

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City woman with a history of hoarding animals has been arrested again. Police say Delores Metcalf faces 32 new municipal charges, including living in an unsafe dwelling, abuse and neglect. It's the fourth time she has been arrested for hoarding. The city removed 14 cats and a dog from Metcalf's home on Monday. Police say most of the animals are in fair condition, although one dead dog was found at the house. Authorities had previously condemned Metcalf's home. Tori Fugate, marketing manager for by the KC Pet Project animal shelter, estimated Metcalf has taken care of at least 600 cats in recent years. Kansas City code allows residents to have up to four dogs, cats or ferrets in their homes.


Wichita Police Seize Nearly 80 Cats from Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police put a 16-year-old girl into protective custody after 79 cats were taken from the mobile home where she lived with her mother. Several dogs also were taken Monday from the property in southwest Wichita. KWCH reports that investigators went to the home after a Wichita school counselor contacted social services out of concern about the girl's living conditions. Fire crews were called in to help with respirators because of the strong smell of urine in the home. Police say the animals were well cared for and healthy.

Judge Considers $2M Restitution in Child Porn Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge has been asked to award three child pornography victims more than $2 million in restitution from a Kansas man convicted of downloading their images over the Internet. Brandon Hollister of Horton, Kansas pleaded guilty last year to one count of distributing child porn and was sentenced Monday to five years in prison. Three victims whose images were seized from Hollister's computer have requested restitution. But recent court decisions have left it unclear whether individual violators can be forced to pay such large amounts to reimburse victims whose images have spread to countless other people online. A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last week says the government must prove how much of those losses were caused by the defendant's actions before awarding such large sums.


Tiny Kansas Town Decides Council Race with Names in Hat

FORD CITY, Kan. (AP) — If Andy Thompson's wife had been in town last week, there would have been no need for a tiebreaker in the city council race in a tiny southwest Kansas community. But Thompson tells The Dodge City Globe that his wife's return from a visit to their grandson was delayed when the boy got appendicitis. So she wasn't among the 42 Ford City voters who cast ballots in the April 2 council election, which ended with 21 votes apiece for Thompson and Betty Shearon. The Ford County Board of Canvassers decided the race this week by putting the candidates' names in a hat and having an impartial third party draw one name. Thompson won. County Commissioner Jerry King says the Ford City example shows the importance of every single vote.


Kansan Sentenced for Tax Evasion

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man was sentenced to a year of house arrest and five years of probation for not paying income taxes on money he earned while working as a consultant in Iraq. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a news release that 43-year-old Gregory S. Light of Louisburg was sentenced Monday after he pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion. Prosecutors say while Light worked as a subcontractor in Iraq with his own company he did not report salary he was paid in cash. He bought money orders with the cash and kept them in a safe deposit box in the United States. Light didn't report a total of $313,781 in income and failed to pay $81,886 in income taxes.


KC Contractor Sentenced in $900K Kickback Scheme

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City contractor has been ordered to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution for participating in a nearly $900,000 bid-rigging conspiracy. The U.S. attorney's office announced Tuesday that 45-year-old Tim Rowland of Platte City also was sentenced to five years of probation. The owner of construction company ATNJ pleaded guilty in October to his role in a conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Prosecutors allege that between November 2004 and May 2009, Rowland conspired to pay nearly $300,000 in kickbacks to two Johnson County, Kansas men who were in charge of procuring bids for renovating apartment complexes. One of those men has been ordered to pay nearly $540,000 in restitution. Prosecutors say he wasn't the only contractor involved. Three others have pleaded guilty to paying bribes to get construction work.


Kansas Woman Accused of Abandoning Baby Skips Trial

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a Leavenworth woman who didn't show up for the start of her trial on charges that she left her baby alone in an alley. Jury selection for the trial of Elizabeth A. Michaud was scheduled Monday morning in Leavenworth County District Court. But Michaud, who's been free on bond, did not appear. Michaud was charged with aggravated endangering a child after she allegedly left her infant son in a Leavenworth alley last May. Authorities say they believe she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. The Leavenworth Times reports that Michaud also failed to show up in court Monday afternoon for a hearing in a case in which she faces drug charges.


Jayhawks' Ben McLemore Declares for NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas guard Ben McLemore is entering the NBA draft after arguably the most successful freshman season in school history. The 6-foot-6 star from St. Louis broke Danny Manning's freshman scoring record by averaging nearly 16 points, and helped Kansas win a share of its ninth straight Big 12 title. McLemore, a second-team All-American, announced his intentions while accompanied by Jayhawks coach Bill Self during a news conference Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse. Expected to be a lottery pick in June's draft, McLemore is the third Kansas freshman coached by Self to leave school early. Xavier Henry was picked 12th overall by Memphis in 2010, and Josh Selby was a late second-round selection of the Grizzlies the following year.

Kansas Wheat Center to Open with Loaf-Cutting Rather than Ribbon Cutting

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Forget the scissors: For the grand opening of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, officials will forgo the usual ribbon-cutting in favor of slicing an 8-foot-long loaf of bread. The Kansas Wheat Commission will host the ceremony and open house April 26 in Manhattan. The $10.3 million center is touted as the home for a new era of investment in wheat research. Its 35,000 square feet of space include 15,000 square feet of laboratories to develop new wheat varieties. That section features 13 environmentally controlled growth rooms. Greenhouses occupy about 10,000 square feet. One of the four greenhouses is air-conditioned, for summer research. The center also has 10,000 square feet of offices.


Missouri River Level Stays Low Because of Drought

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The amount of water released into the lower Missouri River this spring will remain at minimal levels because of ongoing dry conditions in the region. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it plans to release just enough water to support a minimal channel for barge traffic on the river upstream of St. Louis. Additional water won't be released to raise the water level above Kansas City if there is no commercial traffic in that area. The corps says it expects the amount of runoff flowing into the river basin this spring to be about 81 percent of normal. So the corps is imposing drought conservation measures. The amount of water released out of Gavins Point dam on the South Dakota-Nebraska border averaged 18,600 cubic feet per second during March.


Kansas Couple Holds 2 Catfish Fishing Records

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Blue catfish might want to stay away from a northeast Kansas couple. Stefanie Stanley and her husband, Robert, of Olathe each hold state records for blue catfish they caught. Stefanie Stanley set a record Saturday when she reeled in an 82.05-pound blue catfish at Milford Reservoir. It was the largest blue catfish ever caught in a Kansas lake. But it wasn't close to the blue catfish her husband caught last August. Robert Stanley hooked a 102.8 pound catfish from the Missouri River. That's the largest blue catfish ever caught in a river in Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Stanleys' daughter, BayLeigh, caught a 70-pound catfish in the Kaw River last year. Stefanie Stanley released her record-setting fish back into the lake.

Garden Plain Coach Acquitted on Sex Crime Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County jury acquitted a former Garden Plain football coach of two charges involving sex with children but could not reach a verdict on a third count. The jury on Monday found Todd Puetz not guilty of attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child and attempted criminal sodomy. The jury deadlocked on a charge of electronic solicitation of a child. Puetz was one of seven men arrested after a police sting operation in October 2011. He was accused of trying to meet a person he thought was a 15-year-old girl for sex after communicating with her online. His attorneys argued Puetz was entrapped by an undercover agent and he didn't solicit anyone. Prosecutors did not say if they intend to retry Puetz on the solicitation charge.

Trial Set for South Dakota Jail Escape Suspect

HURON, S.D. (AP) — Trial has been scheduled for a Kansas man accused of breaking out of jail in South Dakota's Beadle County in January. Forty-five-year-old Charles Beeney has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault, theft and escape. KOKK radio reports that his trial is set to begin May 28. Beeney has a criminal history in Kansas and North Dakota, including an escape from a county jail in North Dakota in 2005 and an attempted escape from the State Penitentiary in that state in 2010. In South Dakota, he's accused of escaping from a jail in Huron by accosting a guard with a makeshift weapon. He was captured later the same day in Sioux Falls after allegedly stealing a pickup truck and driving there.


Austin Will Be Next Stop for Google Fiber

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Google says tech-savvy Austin will be the next city to receive the search giant's ultra-fast Internet service starting next year. Google on Tuesday did not reveal how much Austin customers will pay for Google Fiber. The gigabit Internet service is about 100 times faster than a basic cable modem. Last summer, Kansas City became the first metro area in the U.S. to receive Google Fiber. Customers there pay $70 a month for the top-speed connection. Milo Medin, who heads up Google Fiber, says the company will begin identifying Austin neighborhoods to install the service in 2014.


2nd Passenger in Oklahoma Plane Crash Identified

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A relative says one of the people killed in Sunday's small plane crash near the Tulsa suburb of Collinsville was a retired doctor who lived in Kansas. Rod Marshall says that his twin brother, Ronald Marshall, was aboard the plane with another passenger when it crashed. Rod Marshall says his brother was a retired gynecologist who lived in Manhattan, Kansas. Federal records show the plane was registered to Ronald Marshall out of DeWitt, Nebraska, where he owned land. A second passenger, Chris Gruber, was identified earlier by officials at Kansas State University. The Federal Aviation Administration says the single-engine aircraft departed Tulsa around 5:50 pm Sunday en route to Manhattan. The plane crashed inside the city limits of Collinsville, about 30 minutes northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Kansas Thief Drives Off with Furniture Trailer

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Salina are looking for the thief who drove off with a trailer containing the belongings of a woman moving into an apartment. The crime happened sometime Friday while the trailer was parked in the lot outside an apartment building. Police say the thief hooked the trailer up to a vehicle and towed it away. Items in the trailer included a love seat, bed, mattress and other household goods. The loss is estimated at $3,000.



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