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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Is a Serial Arsonist on the Loose in Lawrence?

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Investigators in Lawrence are looking into the latest fire in a string of recent blazes at apartment buildings.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports reports no one was injured in the fire early Sunday at a complex on West 24th Street. Crews quickly extinguished the smoky blaze.  A report by Lawrence Fire Chief Mark Bradford says the fire was deliberately set. No other information was released yesterday (MON), and Bradford did not say whether officials believe it was related to several others in the area.  The Journal-World says it used an open-records request last week to obtain all fire reports in the city since October 19. The newspaper says the reports show nine fires fitting a similar pattern. Eight occurred at multi-unit apartment complexes, and five are listed as arson.


Coal Train Derails East of Topeka; No Injuries... Except to a House

GRANTVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Cleanup is under way after a Union Pacific coal train derailed in northeast Kansas.  Jefferson County authorities say 23 coal cars derailed just north of Grantville last (MON) night.  Grantville is a few miles east of Topeka and about 25 miles west of Lawrence.  Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig says no one was injured. But one house was damaged when a piece of rail landed inside. He says the piece of rail landed on the bottom bunk of a bunk bed, and a child was sleeping on the top bunk.  The cause of the derailment is under investigation.


NE KS County Certifies Vote in Tight House Race

LYNDON, Kan. (AP) — Election season may be over in most of the country, but questions linger in Kansas.  Officials in one northeast Kansas county have certified the results of a close state House race amid a legal battle over another county's vote counting.  The Osage County Commission's review Monday of provisional ballots widened the lead enjoyed by Republican challenger Ken Corbet of Topeka over Democratic Rep. Ann Mah of Topeka to 44 votes. Before the commission met, Corbet's lead stood at 27 votes out of nearly 11,000 cast.  Portions of their 54th House District are in Douglas, Osage and Shawnee counties.  Mah successfully sued Shawnee County last week to obtain a list of voters casting provisional ballots. She plans to contact them and help them correct problems so their ballots can be counted.  But Secretary of State Kris Kobach filed a federal lawsuit to block her move.


Panel Interviews 20 for Court of Appeals Position

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A statewide nominating commission is interviewing 20 applicants for a seat on the Kansas Court of Appeals.  Among the candidates are Caleb Stegall, who is Governor Sam Brownback's chief counsel, and Sedgwick County District Judge Tony Powell, a former member of the Kansas House.  The commission is holding interviews today (TUE) and tomorrow (WED). The panel will then select three finalists, from whom Brownback will make the appointment. Appellate judges in Kansas do not need confirmation from the state Senate.  The applicants are seeking to replace Judge Christel Marquardt, who plans to retire in January.  It will be Brownback's second appointment to the 13-member Court of Appeals.


Elderly Hutchinson Man Hit and Killed by Car

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — An elderly Hutchinson man has died from injuries he suffered when he was hit by a car as walked along a street Sunday.  Police say 77-year-old Neil J. Kralicek died yesterday (MON) at a Wichita hospital. He was hit by a car driven by 43-year-old Valerie S. Avery.  Kralicek was airlifted Sunday to the Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis in Wichita. Avery was not injured.  Hutchinson police continue to investigate.


Missouri Girl Brings Toys to NYC Storm Victims

NEW YORK (AP) — A 4-year-old girl from Kansas City has been delivering toys to New York City children affected by Superstorm Sandy.  Katherine Schell tells WCBS-TV that she was worried about other kids who "lost their animals."  Her mom, Katie Schell, says it was Katherine's idea to bring the toys to New York.  In three days, the Schells and their neighbors collected enough money to buy 1,800 stuffed animals.  A resident of hard-hit Far Rockaway, Queens, LaTannia Rakine, says the toy mission "meant the whole world" to her family.  The Schells brought 200 of the toys themselves.  A Kansas City trucking company is shipping the rest for free. Once those arrive, the Stephen Siller Foundation will help distribute them.


Fugitive Who Says Family Was Killed Faces Sentencing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A fugitive immigrant who claims her family was killed in Mexico over a Kansas drug case faces sentencing in Wichita.  Norma Quintana hopes to be sentenced to time served in her
federal court proceeding later today (TUE).  She was arrested in April and pleaded guilty to failing to appear at a 2010 trial for possession with intent to distribute 160 pounds of marijuana.  Prosecutors agreed to drop the drug charge in a deal for her guilty plea for fleeing.  Attorney Charles O'Hara argued that Quintana's husband, son and brother were killed in Mexico while the criminal case was pending. He says Quintana believes those killings are related to the Kansas marijuana case.  Quintana does not know if a sister and another brother who were abducted from their homes in Mexico are alive.


KS Gov Announces Health Care Effort to Help Veterans

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is preparing to announce a state-federal collaboration to provide Kansas military veterans better access to health care.  Brownback's office declined to provide details ahead of today's (TUE) news conference at the Statehouse.  Kansas Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli is scheduled to join Brownback for the announcement.  Others set to take part include an official of the Veterans Administration and the director of telemedicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.  


Pittsburg Breaks Ground on New Surgery Center

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas hospital will break ground next week on an $18 million expansion.  The Joplin Globe reports construction of the new surgery center at Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg will begin November 19.  Crossland Construction Company, of Columbus, Kansas, was chosen recently as the general contractor for the 40,000-square-foot addition. It's the biggest expansion since the hospital was built in 1971.  Via Christi officials hope the expansion will attract an additional 20 surgeons, physicians and other specialists to the Pittsburg hospital over the next three years.  The surgery center is expected to open within two years. The building will include five operating rooms.  
Wichita-based Via Christi Health system has offices and clinics throughout Kansas, as well as hospitals in Wichita, Pittsburg, Manhattan and Wamego.


Kansas State Library Objects to E-book Policies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The State Library of Kansas is using Facebook to complain about major publishers' policies regarding e-books at libraries.  Library officials contend that six large publishing firms refuse to sell some titles as e-books to libraries, or charge higher rates for popular books.  State librarian Jo Budler told The Wichita Eagle that the library needed to explain to the public why some popular books are not available as e-books. Some of the e-books not available include "Harry Potter," and "The Signal and the Noise" by political forecaster Nate Silver.  The Facebook page also lists e-books that are available to libraries, but at prices up to $85 a copy.  The site names publishers Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster; and Random House and Penguin Group, which are merging their operations.


Karl Rove to Address Kansas Livestock Association

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Republican strategist Karl Rove heads to Wichita later this month to address the 100th annual convention of the Kansas Livestock Association.  Rove is the featured speaker at the association's banquet on November 28. He's expected to discuss what this month's elections mean for the nation, especially the agricultural sector.  Rove was deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.  The convention runs November 28-30. Also on the agenda are readings from cowboy entertainer and former veterinarian Baxter Black, and a session on market outlooks with a top official from the beef industry information company CattleFax.


Stray Dog Gets Home in Kansas after 8 Years on the Loose

BUHLER, Kan. (AP) — A stray dog cared for by residents of a central Kansas town for more than eight years finally has a home.  The dog lived all those years near Buhler, eluding numerous efforts to catch her. Residents dubbed her D.D., short for "Ditch Dog."  They also did all they could to care for the dog, setting out food and watching out for her safety.  But no one could get close enough to catch the dog. But recently, resident Rachelle Cavanaugh began slowly taming the animal after she noticed it apparently had developed arthritis.  After weeks of work, D.D. finally accepted Cavanaugh's help and went home to live with her and three other dogs.  The Hutchinson News reports that D.D. has some anxiety but mostly has adjusted to her new home.


Bald Eagle Pair Returns to Wichita Area

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A pair of mating bald eagles has returned to downtown Wichita for the third straight winter.  The pair was arrived separately last week at their nest in the Twin Lakes area of Wichita.  The Wichita Eagle reports photographers have chronicled nearly every waking moment of the eagles' lives during their last two visits.  And most of the watchers are hoping this will be the year they pair produces some eaglets.  The eagles migrate from the northern Great Lakes to Kansas lakes and rivers. When the state's lakes freeze, the eagles move to rivers, including the Arkansas River in downtown Wichita. This pair of eagles usually stays in Wichita until late February or early March.  


Nelson-Atkins Lends Paintings to Shanghai Museum

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has loaned several of its Chinese landscape paintings to China's Shanghai Museum for an exhibition that's been drawing huge crowds.  The Nelson-Atkins says the exhibit — called Masterpieces of Early Chinese Painting and Calligraphy in American Collections — brings together about 60 ancient Chinese works held in U.S. museums. The exhibit has been drawing daily crowds of more than 8,000 visitors since it opened this month in Shanghai.  The exhibit includes pieces from the Nelson-Atkins, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and The Cleveland Museum of Art.  The Nelson-Atkins says its works will be on display in Kansas City next year after the conclusion of the show in China.


2 Fort Riley Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Two 1st Infantry Division soldiers from Fort Riley have died of wounds they suffered in separate attacks in Afghanistan. Officials at the northeast Kansas post say 26-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew Stiltz, of Spokane, Wash., was killed Monday during an insurgent attack in the Zerok district. On Friday, 37-year-old Capt. James D. Nehl, of Gardiner, Ore., died in eastern Afghanistan's Ghanzi Province. Fort Riley officials announced the two deaths Tuesday. Stiltz was a member of the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry and had been at Fort Riley since 2006. It was his first deployment to Afghanistan after two deployments to Iraq. Nehl was with the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry and had been at Fort Riley since May. He served previously in Iraq and was on his first deployment to Afghanistan.


Kansas Seizes 8 Jump Start Stores for Sales Taxes

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Revenue Department has seized eight convenience stores in the southeastern part of the state for what it says are unpaid sales taxes. The agency says the seizures Tuesday of the eight Jump Start stores represent the last in a long series of steps to collect the taxes. The stores are owned by a company called TAS Group LLC. Revenue Department spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda says the business failed to send the state nearly $516,000 in sales taxes collected between October 2011 and July 2012. Agents shut down two stores each in Coffeyville and Independence and one each in Chetopa, Pittsburg, Altamont and Neodesha (nee-OH'-duh-SHAY'). Phone numbers for the company and its officers could not be found, and the Revenue Department declined to provide them.


Pitt State Won't Be Able to Defend National Title

While the Kansas State football team remains in the hunt for a national championship, Pittsburg State University will no be able to defend its national title on the NCAA Division II level. When the Division II teams were announced last weekend, the Gorillas were squeezed out with a 7-3 record.

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