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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, August 7, 2012




No Major Problems Reported in Kansas Primary Voting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — No major problems have been reported as voters head to the polls to cast ballots in the Kansas primary. Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby said that as of early Tuesday afternoon, his office hadn't heard any complaints from voters. He said that could be "great news" or simply mean that turnout is low. Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman told The Wichita Eagle that voting was going well after problems with the voting equipment at one polling site were fixed. The problems temporarily led to long lines at the site. In Shawnee County, one of the supervising judges, Noriene Thacker, told The Topeka Capital Journal that everyone has been complying with a new requirement that voters show identification. She added: "I don't know where the naysayers are."


Turnout in Kansas Primary Elections Varying, Depending on Individual Races 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says turnout in the state's primary election varies based on whether a county has a hot state Senate race. Kobach said Tuesday afternoon that it's too early to tell whether turnout will exceed his prediction of 18 percent statewide. That's a relatively low figure, and it would mean about 310,000 of the state's 1.7 million registered voters casting ballots. He said turnout at a Wyandotte County site he visited was steady but light. His staff reported that about 2,200 people had cast ballots in the county by noon. In Topeka, reports from poll workers varied. In some polling places, workers thought turnout might exceed 30 percent. Turnout also was reported as being higher than anticipated in Park City, north of Wichita.


Kansas GOP Primary Could Aid in Realignment of State Senate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican primary voters could reshape the Kansas Legislature as conservatives try to oust moderate GOP incumbents from the state Senate. Tuesday's party primaries feature contested races in a majority of the 40 Senate and 125 House districts. Both chambers have Republican majorities. The hottest contests were in a dozen Senate districts in which moderate Republican incumbents faced more conservative challengers. They targeted moderates included Senate President Steve Morris, of Hugoton. Republican moderates were getting help from the state's largest teacher's union and other labor groups. The conservative push to remake the Senate was backed by the powerful Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the anti-tax, small-government group Americans for Prosperity. Secretary of State Kris Kobach has predicted that only 18 percent of the state's 1.7 million registered voters would cast ballots.

Health Care Law Could Be Affecting Kansas Vote

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attempts by Kansas conservatives to tie moderate Republicans with President Barack Obama may be resonating with some voters. The health care law championed by the president has been an issue in Republican primary races for the Kansas Senate because conservatives have suggested that moderate incumbents have not opposed it enough. In Topeka Tuesday, Republican voter Kent Schneider, a 55-year-old retired state employee, said he cast his ballot for state Representative Joe Patton against incumbent Senator Vicki Schmidt, mostly because he believes Patton is more opposed to what he called "Obamacare." At another Topeka precinct, 23-year-old Derek Parrett, a casino supervisor, gave the same reasons for voting for Patton. He described Schmidt as too liberal. Schmidt has used television ads to link herself with Republican icon Ronald Reagan.

Democrats Face Primary Contests for 2 of 4 Kansas US House Seats

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Five Democrats are on the ballots in two Kansas congressional districts seeking the right to challenge Republican incumbents in the U.S. House. In south-central Kansas, political newcomers Robert Tillman and Esau Freeman, of Wichita, are vying Tuesday in the Democratic primary. The winner will face 4th District Congressman Mike Pompeo in November. In the 2nd District of eastern Kansas, the Democratic primary features Ottawa farmer Scott Barnhart, Lawrence attorney Robert Eye and Topeka minister Tobias Schlingensiepen. The winner will challenge two-term Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins in November. The other two Kansas incumbents — Tim Huelskamp in the 1st District and Kevin Yoder in the 3rd District — have no opposition in the Republican primaries. No Democrats are running in those districts.

Kansas Ballots Feature 2 Contested Primaries for School Board

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A retired Wichita school administrator hopes to oust a Republican from the State Board of Education in the Kansas primary elections. And in another state school board race Tuesday, Democrats were picking their nominee for a district covering northeast and north-central Kansas. They were the only contested primary races for State Board of Education seats. In the Wichita contest, incumbent Republican Walt Chappell faces Kathy Busch, a retired assistant superintendent and principal. No Democratic candidate is running. In the other race, Usha Reddi, a Manhattan first-grade teacher, and Carol Viar, a Salina accountant and member of a local school board, are seeking the Democratic nomination. The winner faces former Republican House member Deena Horst, of Salina, in November.

Primary Voter Turnout Extremely Light in KC So Far

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials say voter turnout in Kansas City for the primary election so far has been low. Shawn Kieffer, Republican director of elections for the Kansas City Election Board, says turnout Tuesday morning in Kansas City has been "extremely light." Kieffer says his office had anticipated a turnout of about 15 percent, which is light for a primary election in a presidential election year. But he says that based on the numbers that have come in so far, he thinks the final figure may be closer to 10 percent or 12 percent of the 215,000 registered voters in his jurisdiction. Kansas City voters, like those elsewhere around the state, have the chance to decide a Republican U.S. Senate primary that has been closely contested. The polls are open until 7 pm.

Groups Help Kansas Moderates with $178K in Spending

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Political action committees backing moderate Republicans in Kansas Senate races have spent at least $178,000 in the final days before the party primaries. That's according to campaign finance reports filed through Monday. A PAC for Kansas real estate agents reported spending more than $58,000 on mailings and online advertising in the week before Tuesday's primary. Other groups backing moderate Republicans for Senate also report spending more than $30,000 each in recent days. They include the Kansas Traditional Republican Majority PAC, the Kansas Jobs PAC and the Kansas Values PAC. The Kansas Jobs PAC received a $15,000 contribution from the state's largest public employees union. GOP conservatives are trying to oust a dozen moderate Republicans in primary races and gain control of the Kansas Senate.

Kansas Chamber of Commerce Spends $394K in Days Before Primary

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The political action committee of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce has spent more than $394,000 on legislative races in the final days before Tuesday's party primaries. Campaign finance reports filed through Monday show most of the money went for mailings and radio spots for conservative Republicans running for state Senate. The chamber's PAC reported spending nearly $307,000 on Sunday alone, but chamber vice president Jeff Glendening said $45,000 of the spending also was listed in an earlier report. The chamber is backing efforts by GOP conservatives to oust a dozen moderate Republican senators in primary races. But the chamber also is helping conservative candidates seeking open seats. Kansas allows PACs to spend unlimited amounts on ads promoting candidates if those activities aren't coordinated with the candidates.

Kansas Resubmits Medicaid Waiver Proposal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's administration resubmitted a Medicaid waiver proposal to the federal government after the first proposal needed to be withdrawn. The state needs the waiver in order to use federal Medicaid dollars for the Brownback administration's managed care plan, called KanCare. State officials withdrew a proposal that was submitted April 26 after realizing that they had not notified Haskell Health Center in Lawrence and the White Cloud Health Station. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the administration consulted with those two American Indian groups and hosted more public forums before resubmitting the proposed waiver to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this week.

3 Suspects Arrested in 15 Burglaries in Hutchinson

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Three people are jailed after being arrested in 15 burglaries in Hutchinson. The crimes began April 10 with a burglary at a convenience store. Targets also included seven churches and Hutchinson High School. The suspects were arrested Monday after Hutchinson police received an anonymous tip. Prosecutors have charged 24-year-old Justin Lee Branscom and 19-year-old Tyler Schmucker of Hutchinson with multiple counts of burglary, criminal damage, criminal trespass and theft. A 16-year-old faces similar charges. Branscom and Schmucker are in custody of the Reno County Sheriff, each on a $45,000 bond. The teenager is in a juvenile facility.

GOP Race to Decide Sedgwick County DA Successor

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Voters in the Kansas county where Nola Foulston oversaw the prosecutions of some of the nation's most notorious crimes are choosing a new district attorney. Foulston is stepping down after 24 years as the Sedgwick County district attorney with no Democrat running to replace her. That means whoever wins Tuesday's Republican primary essentially wins the job. On the GOP ballot are deputy district attorney Marc Bennett and former assistant D.A. Kevin O'Connor, who's now a special prosecutor for the Kansas attorney general. Sedgwick County is home to Wichita, terrorized for years by "BTK" serial killer Dennis Rader. Foulston also led the prosecution of Scott Roeder for killing abortion provider George Tiller. It was also in Wichita that brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr went on a rampage that killed five people.


Judge Won't Dismiss Case Against Anti-Abortion Activist

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has refused to dismiss the case against an anti-abortion activist accused of threatening a Wichita doctor who was training to offer abortions. Angel Dillard's attorney argued the case should be dismissed because Dr. Mila Means is not providing abortions. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten on Tuesday rejected that argument. He also rejected Dillard's move to countersue the government for allegedly violating her First Amendment rights. The Valley Center woman allegedly sent Means a letter saying Means would have to check her car every day because someone might place an explosive under it. The Justice Department sued under a law protecting access to reproductive services. Marten granted the government's request for a jury trial. Dillard's trial is scheduled for February 5.

Kansas Lawyer Sentenced to 3 Years for Ponzi Scheme

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas attorney faces three years in prison for his role in a scheme that bilked investors out of about $52 million. James Scott Brown of Leawood pleaded guilty earlier to participating in a conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. He was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison without parole and ordered to pay $34 million in restitution. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City says investors loaned about $52.5 million through the scheme known as the British Lending Program. Victims thought they were loaning money for real estate projects, but Brown and two other men kept most of the money. Martin Sigillito of Webster Groves, Missouri, is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of leading the conspiracy. Derek Smith, of Oxfordshire, England, pleaded guilty and also awaits sentencing.

Man Stabbed to Death in Small KS Town; Suspect Arrested

SEVERY, Kan. (AP) — A suspect in custody in the stabbing death of a 40-year-old man in Severy is scheduled to make his first court appearance. The Greenwood County Sheriff and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation are investigating the death of Dominic Angelo, who was found dead at his home on Sunday. A 48-year-old man from Hamilton was arrested east of Eureka shortly after Angelo's body was found. Severy has less than 300 residents. Mayor Rodney Craig told KAKE-TV that no other murder has been reported in his hometown in the 42 years he's lived there. Greenwood County Sheriff Rusty Bitler says investigators are still trying to determine the circumstances that led to Angelo's death.


Kansas Man Charged with Possession of Synthetic Drug

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — The manager of a Platte City, Missouri shop has been charged with possession of the synthetic drug K-2. The Platte County prosecutor's office says 45-year-old Claude F. Collins Jr. of Leavenworth was a manager of the Tobacco Shop in Platte City before it closed earlier this year. He's accused of selling the synthetic drug from the store. Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd says police found K-2 and other synthetic drugs in three recent traffic stops. He says each of the people stopped said they bought the drugs from the Tobacco Shop. An undercover detective also bought the synthetic drugs from the shop in May and July. Online court records don't list a lawyer for Collins, who was arrested August 6 and released on $10,000 bond.


Lawrence Boy, 11, Seeks Return of Stolen Fair Project 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Someone has apparently taken off with a prize-winning Christmas wall-hanging done by an 11-year-old Lawrence boy. Adam Leonard's quilting work won him a reserved grand champion ribbon at the Douglas County fair last week. But now the wall hanging, which qualified Adam Leonard for a State Fair entry, has been reported missing from the county fairgrounds. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Adam's mother, Joyce Miles, says they're asking whoever has the piece to return it anonymously. She says her son was more shocked at the loss than anything, and says if someone wanted a quilt Adam would've made them one. Fair officials say a few other 4-H projects were also reported missing from the fairgrounds and that the Douglas County Sheriff's Office has been notified.


Drought Reduces Amount of Water in Missouri River

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers is again reducing its prediction for how much water will flow down the Missouri River this year because of the drought. The corps now predicts 21 million acre-feet of runoff this year in the 2,341-mile-long river that flows from Montana through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. That forecast is about 85 percent of normal, and well below last year's record amount of 61.2 million acre-feet of runoff. Flooding along the river last year caused massive damage, but this year the amount of snowmelt and rain flowing into the river is below normal. Some of the extra water stored in reservoirs along the river has been used to provide enough water for navigation, power and other uses of the river.

Wichita Library Reopens after Bedbug Problem

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita public library reopened its main branch Tuesday after dealing with bedbugs that were found last week. A patron reported seeing an insect last Wednesday in a chair at the downtown branch. An expert identified it as a bedbug, and a search turned up more of the insects on chairs in two lounge areas. Library officials brought in pest control companies and a dog trained to detect bedbugs to search the premises. All of the lounge seating has been removed, and other seating and some materials on shelves have been treated. Library director Cynthia Berner Harris says any patrons worried that they might have borrowed infested materials should return them in zippered plastic bags.

Kansas Crops Deteriorating Amid Heat, Drought

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service says the state's corn and soybean crops are in the worst condition since the agency began keeping records in 1985. In its weekly update, the agency said Monday that 69 percent of the corn crop was in poor to very poor condition. About 22 percent was in fair condition, with just 8 percent rated good and only 1 percent rated excellent. About 7 percent of the state's corn acreage had been harvested for grain by Sunday. The hot, dry weather is also hurting soybeans, with 67 percent in poor to very poor condition. Sorghum is stressed as well, with 62 percent rated poor to very poor. Stock water supplies declined sharply in the past week, with only 28 percent of Kansas having adequate supplies.

Third Man Sentenced in KC Brinks Truck Robbery

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 22-year-old Missouri man was sentenced to 13½ years in prison for helping rob a Brinks crew who were filling an ATM at a Kansas City bank. The Kansas City Star reported Monday that Gerald Jones of Raytown also was ordered to pay $76,649 in restitution after pleading guilty to three counts of armed robbery. Twenty-two-year-old Deangelo Colston of Raytown was already sentenced to 14 years and three months, and 22-year-old Larry Platt of Grandview was sentenced to five months in prison. Court documents say the three held up the two-man Brinks crew in August 2010 and stole $130,000 in $20 bills. Jones and Colston also admitted robbing Hillcrest Bank in Overland Park in July 2010 and a Buca di Beppo restaurant in Kansas City in August 2009.

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