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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, June 19, 2012




KS Board Rejects Election Challenge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are refusing to reconsider a decision by the Secretary of State's office that helped dozens of legislative candidates after the state's political boundaries were redrawn by federal judges.  The State Objections Board has rejected a legal challenge filed by Kansas House candidate Scott Hesse of Topeka. Hesse argued that Secretary of State Kris Kobach did not have the legal authority to assign more than 80 legislative candidates to the correct districts after lines were redrawn.  Three federal judges drew new boundaries earlier this month just days before the candidate filing deadline.  Kobach is chairman of the State Objections Board and defended his policy during the meeting. Another board member, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, said overturning Kobach's decision would create problems in administering the election.


KS Gay Rights Group's Ballot Challenge Rejected

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas gay rights group has failed to block a conservative Democrat from seeking re-election to the state House. The State Objections Board on Tuesday rejected a challenge to the primary election filing by Rep. Jan Pauls, of Hutchinson. The challenge came from Tom Witt, executive director of the Kansas Equality Coalition. The coalition has clashed with Pauls over issues such as same-sex marriage. Witt questioned whether Pauls truly lives at a former church the lawmaker claims as her knew address. Witt said Pauls and her husband cannot live there legally. Pauls said she has made the former church her home because her previous residence was drawn into another district during the state's political redistricting process.


KS House Majority Leader Won't Face GOP Primary 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House majority leader has been spared a primary election showdown with a fellow Republican lawmaker who's also a political ally. This year's political redistricting put Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid (SIHG'-freed) and Rep. Mike Kiegerl (KEE'-gurl) in the same House district. Both are from the Johnson County city of Olathe (oh-LAY'-thuh). Kiegerl had made clear he didn't want to run against his friend, but he filed before the redistricting was complete and was unable to meet a deadline for quitting the race. On Tuesday, the State Objections Board took care of the matter by granting Siegfreid's request to remove Kiegerl from the Aug. 7 ballot.


KS Board Hears Election Challenges

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are preparing to hear objections to listings on primary election ballots for three state House seats.  The State Objections Board is scheduled to convene today (TUE).  The board is made up of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, all Republicans.  A group called the Kansas Equality Coalition wants to remove Democratic Rep. Jan Pauls, of Hutchinson, from the ballot. The group questions whether Pauls lives at the address she listed on her filing form.  Another objection involves two House Republicans from Johnson County who were placed in the same district when political boundaries were redrawn.  In a third case, Democrats are objecting to Kobach's refusal to list Larry Meeker, of Lake Quivira, as a candidate in another Kansas City-area House district.


Parties Seek to Expedite Planned Parenthood Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys have asked a federal judge in Kansas to fast track a dispute over the funding of Planned Parenthood so an appeals court can also rule on the latest legislation.  The dispute concerns a Kansas law requiring the state to first allocate some federal family planning money to public health departments and hospitals, which leaves no funds for specialty clinics.  U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten met briefly today (TUE) with attorneys for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, the Dodge City Family Planning Clinic and the state of Kansas.  Marten ordered Kansas last year to keep funding the clinics until the appeals court rules.  All parties want the case expedited so the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has both the 2011 and 2012 statutes before it.


Hutchinson Man Gets 2 Years for Threat to Kill President

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson man who sent two letters to a Kansas mental hospital threatening to kill President Barack Obama has been sentenced to two years in federal prison.  U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says 27-year-old Michael Scott Ramsey was sentenced yesterday (MON) in Wichita. He pleaded guilty in March.  Grissom says Ramsey delivered letters on July 1, 2009, to Larned State Hospital saying he was going to kill the president. In one of the letters he said "this is Michael Ramsey telling you this."  Ramsey received a mental evaluation at a federal detention center in Los Angeles, where experts found there was no evidence he had a mental disorder.


KS Driver Gets 6 Years for Fatal Drunk-Driving Crash

WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas man has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison for a drunken-driving crash last year that killed his girlfriend.  Twenty-four-year-old Kyndal Orange, of Arkansas (ar-KAN'-zuhs) City, was convicted last month of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol, and driving without a license. He was charged after an SUV he was driving flipped over several times along a Cowley County highway in March 2011.  Twenty-six-year-old TiOnna Rachelle Bruno, also of Arkansas City, was riding with Orange. She died after being thrown from the vehicle.  KAKE-TV reports Orange was sentenced yesterday (MON) to 71 months in prison plus three years of post-release supervision. He'll receive credit for the roughly 15 months he's already spent in custody.


Prosecutor Seeks Death Penalty in Child's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee County District Attorney plans to seek the death penalty against a Topeka man who is charged with killing an 8-year-old neighbor whose body was found in a clothes dryer. District Attorney Chad Taylor notified attorneys for Billy Frank Davis Jr. on Tuesday that he will seek the death penalty for the March death of Ahliyah Machelle Irvin.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the decision was announced after an arraignment hearing for Davis. He pleaded not guilty to 10 charges including first-degree murder, two alternative counts of capital murder and rape. The trial was scheduled to begin March 4, 2013.  Relatives said the girl was sleeping when she was snatched from her apartment. Her body was found after a brief search of her housing complex.


KC Man Sentenced to 30 Years for Child Pornography

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 33-year-old Kansas City man has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for taking pornographic pictures of a young boy he sponsored through a local mentoring program.  Cory Stahl was sentenced yesterday (MON) in Kansas City to the maximum sentence for producing child pornography as part of a January plea bargain.  Prosecutors say Stahl began mentoring the boy in 2006, when the child was 9 years old, and sent erotic photographs of the youth to a man in Baltimore a year later.  The Baltimore man was arrested in September 2010 for distributing child pornography and told federal agents about Stahl, who was charged in January 2011 after apparently trying to kill himself by crashing his car into an oncoming truck on a northwest Missouri highway.


USDA Fines National Beef $32,500 Civil Penalty

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal regulators have fined National Beef Packing Company $32,500 as part of a consent agreement stemming from its practices with livestock sellers.  The Agriculture Department's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration has also announced cease and desist orders to the Kansas City-based company over the allegations.  The agency ordered the company to give livestock sellers an accurate accounting of the cattle purchased and to correct freight charge deductions. It also ordered National Beef to tell sellers about data errors that affect prices paid for cattle, and to stop using an inaccurate scale for determining carcass weights.  National Beef said it values its relationship with cattle suppliers and regrets the isolated incidents. It said it fully reimbursed cattle suppliers and reviewed procedures to prevent the issues in the future.


Fuel Tax Revenue Could Decline as KS Motorist Drive Less

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — With Kansans driving less and using more fuel-efficient vehicles, the state is studying the possible impact of a drop in fuel tax revenue.  The Kansas Department of Transportation says the decline in revenue from motor fuel taxes is a concern because that money is the primary way the state funds its highway projects.  The Wichita Eagle reports Kansans drove 82.2 million miles each day last year. That's an increase from 81.9 million miles in 2010, but a drop from 83 million in 2006.  Leif Holliday, a traffic engineer for the transportation department, said traffic had grown 1 to 3 percent annually until 2007, when it dropped to levels seen five to eight years before.  KDOT spokeswoman Sally Lunsford says most states are collecting declining motor fuel tax revenue.


String of Fires at Vacant Structures in St. Joseph

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — St. Joseph fire and police officials say they are concerned about an increase in intentionally set fires at abandoned structures around the city.  Fire officials have sent 19 fire cases to the police department since the beginning of the year, which includes fires in structures, vehicles and Dumpsters.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports only eight of the cases are being actively investigated because most of the fires left no evidence and had no witnesses.  Fire inspector Jason Ziph says the actual number of intentional fires is likely higher because when no evidence is left to determine a cause, cases are listed as undetermined and a file in not started.  Investigators say there's no pattern to the fires, making it unclear if they are related.


Report: Kansas Wheat Harvest 80 Percent Finished

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers have now cut all but 20 percent of the state's winter wheat crop.  Most of the fields left to be harvested are located in western Kansas.  The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reports that the harvest was more than two weeks ahead of last year. Usually just 7 percent of the Kansas crop is cut by this time in the year.  Northwest Kansas had cut only a quarter of its wheat acreage as of Sunday, but wheat harvest across most of the state was better than 90 percent finished.  Meanwhile, the agency reported corn condition declining slightly.  About 14 percent of the crop now rated as poor to very poor, 41 percent fair, 41 percent good and 4 percent excellent.


Airbus Plans Suppliers Conference in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials will join with Airbus America's Chairman Allan McArtor to unveil a partnership intended to expand the state's aviation industry through more contracts with the aircraft maker.  U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and McArtor scheduled an announcement today (TUE) of a conference to be held August 6 in Wichita for suppliers.  Moran and McArtor will be joined by local business representatives to outline efforts to further promote the partnership between Airbus and Kansas suppliers.


KS Agriculture Department Considers Moving

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Agriculture is considering moving its headquarters out of Topeka to Manhattan or southwest Kansas.  The state department that handles facilities for state agencies is soliciting bids for office space for the Department of Agriculture. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports bids are being sought from Topeka, Manhattan and Great Bend, Garden City and/or Dodge City.  Agriculture department official Max Foster says the department's lease in Topeka ends September 30, 2013.  A spokeswoman for Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman says the department has been working for the past six months to find a space that meets all the department's needs.  The bid solicitations say the leased spaces must accommodate 20 to 180 workers.


Kansas Wesleyan Looking for a New President

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A search committee is working to find a new president for Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina.  The search started after the university's board of trustees accepted the sudden resignation of Fletcher Lamkin on Friday. They appointed provost Wayne Lowen as interim president while the search is conducted.  The Salina Journal reports Lowen will continue to serve as provost and additional staff might be hired to help with those duties. Trustees chairman James Nelson says no timetable has been set for finding a replacement.  Lamkin's resignation on Friday came after 2½ years as president. His tenure was marked by controversy as many employees resigned or were fired.


Kansas Eagle Scout Earns All 132 Merit Badges

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Boy Scout has done something only about a dozen others accomplish each year by earning all 132 merit badges offered by the organization.  Curry McWilliams of Leavenworth earned his Eagle Scout patch in 2008 and just kept going. Only 21 badges are required to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.  The 18-year-old told The Kansas City Star he didn't set out to earn every badge until he realized in 2010 he was within reach.  The Boy Scout organization doesn't encourage collecting all of the badges, so it doesn't keep track of how many do it each year. Scout officials say 12 per year is merely a rough guess.


Social Media Will be Focus of All-Star Week

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Social media will be embraced in a big way when the All-Star game hits Kansas City.  From a downtown office, teams of social media enthusiasts are planning to monitor the tweets, Facebook posts and Foursquare check-ins of fans in a bid to share information about the city and address trouble spots.  The Kansas City Star reports that teams will track what people are saying in the days leading up to the July 10 game at Kauffman Stadium. Officials say the monitoring of social networks could answer visitor questions and keep tabs on potential emergencies or traffic problems.  A similar setup was used at this year's Super Bowl in Indianapolis, where tweets were used to spot and fix a problem with a swaying stage.  



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