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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, November 27, 2012



Crews Find Body of Missing Pittsburg Man

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Diving crews recovered the body of a southeast Kansas man in an old strip mining pit in a Pittsburg park. Police Lieutenant Cris Hatcher says the body of 22-year-old Mateo Lorenzo of Pittsburg was recovered Monday in a mining pit at Wilderness Park. A witness called police Saturday to say man had fallen into the pit. Crews from Pittsburg, Frontenac and Newton County searched the strip pits most of Sunday. The searchers found Lorenzo's body Monday afternoon in about 14 feet of water. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that an autopsy will be conducted. The pit where Lorenzo was found is one of at least four old pits in the park, which has more than four miles of biking and hiking trails on formerly mined land.

Not Guilty Plea Entered for Junction City Man

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A former Fort Riley soldier stood silent while a judge entered a not guilty plea for him in the killing of a Kansas National Guard member outside a Manhattan motorcycle club. Twenty-six-year-old Daniel Parker is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 21-year-old Frederick Beverly. Beverly was shot early January 1 outside the "Assassin Street Rydaz" club in Manhattan. At the time, Parker was a specialist with the First Infantry Division. Investigators say Parker had clashed with other members of the motorcycle club, of which Beverly was a member. The Manhattan Mercury reports Judge David Stutzman entered a plea of not guilty Monday after Parker stayed silent during his court hearing. The trial was scheduled for April 8-12.


Kansas Governor Launches Weight-Loss Challenge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback and members of his Cabinet are taking the lead in a weight-loss contest aimed at encouraging Kansans to fight obesity and adopt healthier eating habits. The Republican governor on Tuesday challenged other executive, legislative and judicial branch employees to field five-member teams that will compete to lose the largest percentage of body weight. The contest will run January 15 through May 15. Brownback says the rising obesity rates in Kansas and the nation pose serious health risks. The governor said he's recruiting four members of his Cabinet to join his team. Prizes will be awarded to the top two state employee teams with the biggest weight losses by percentage. Brownback also encouraged local governments and private businesses to form teams and join the challenge.

State of Kansas Christmas Ornament Honors Washburn University

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The official Christmas tree ornament for Kansas this year honors Washburn University's 150th anniversary. Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas first lady Mary Brownback unveiled the state ornament Monday at the governor's mansion in Topeka. Twelve of the official ornaments will be sent to Washington D.C. to decorate the state's tree, which is part of national Christmas tree display. The ornament bears Washburn's 150th anniversary logo, which shows the school's mascot, the Ichabod. The state seal is on the back of the ornament. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the state will also send a dozen ornaments made of wheat to decorate the Kansas tree in Washington. The wheat ornaments were made by students at Quincy Elementary School in Topeka.


Bob Dole Hospitalized for Routine Procedure

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas has checked himself into Walter Reed Army Medical Center for what his spokeswoman described as a routine procedure. Spokeswoman Marion Watkins says the 89-year-old Dole is "doing very well" and is expected to leave the hospital Wednesday. Dole's name drew mention as the Senate on Tuesday debated a U.N. treaty promoting equal rights for the disabled. Dole overcame disabling war wounds to forge a 36-year political career. In the early 1990s, he underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer and in 2001 he had surgery to treat an aneurysm. Dole spent 10 months at Walter Reed in 2010 after suffering pneumonia following knee surgery. He was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, losing to Bill Clinton.

Extension Sought in Settlement for Salina Site

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Officials from Salina and the federal government want more time to finalize a proposed financial settlement for cleaning up contamination at a former Air Force base. Lawyers for the city and the Justice Department on Monday asked a federal judge to set a February 13 deadline for final approval of the proposed settlement. The previous deadline was Tuesday. Schilling Air Force base closed in the 1960s, then became part of the city and home to the Salina airport. Salina officials filed suit in 2010 to recoup the cost of cleaning up the leftover pollution, which includes TCE, or trichloroethylene. TCE was used as an industrial solvent and has since been classified as a human carcinogen.


Authorities: Fires in St. Marys Were Arson

ST. MARYS, Kan. (AP) — Investigators in northeastern Kansas are looking for links between recent arson fires at a partly demolished grain elevator and a nearby home. The Manhattan Mercury reports that officials have identified two people as "persons of interest" in the St. Marys fires. The first blaze broke out around 2 am Friday at the downtown St. Marys grain elevator owned by Nemaha County Co-op. The fire destroyed the elevator, which was being razed. It also scattered chunks of burning wood for several blocks and caused heat damage to nearby buildings. Late Sunday, another fire broke out at an unoccupied residence about a block from the elevator. Authorities say that fire was also intentionally set. St. Marys is located about 25 miles northwest of Topeka.

Meatpacker Settlement Awaits Judge's Approval

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A settlement agreement in a lawsuit brought by workers against the Creekstone Farms slaughterhouse in Arkansas City is awaiting approval by the federal judge overseeing the class action litigation. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren will decide whether to approve a settlement reached in August. A joint request by the parties that included details of the deal was filed earlier this month. Workers alleged Creekstone wasn't paying them for all the time they worked. Creekstone said it paid for all time worked, including overtime. Under the proposed $195,000 settlement, about $110,000 would be split among the 144 class members. The amount paid each worker would be based on how often the employee worked during the three-year claim period. Most of the rest of the settlement would go to workers' attorneys.

Kansas Ranchers Converge for 100th Convention

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of Kansas cattle producers will converge in Wichita this week to hear Republican political strategist Karl Rove discuss what he believes the recent election means for the nation and its agricultural sector. Rove was senior adviser and deputy chief of staff for former President George W. Bush. He is the featured speaker Wednesday to a sold-out crowd kicking off the Kansas Livestock Association's 100th convention in Wichita. KLA says 600 people are expected to come to hear Rove speak. About 800 cattlemen are expected to attend the three-day KLA event. CattleFax Executive Vice President Randy Blach is scheduled on Friday to address the market outlook for ranchers, feeders and dairymen.

Kansas National Guard Aiding Armenian Military

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two leaders of the Kansas National Guard are in Armenia this week to help the former Soviet republic improve training of noncommissioned officers. Lieutenant Colonel Brent Salmans and Command Sergeant Major James Moberly are taking part in a workshop with members of Armenia's Defense Ministry. The goal is to develop training and leadership programs for Armenia's enlisted personnel as the nation transitions to a Western-style military. Kansas has partnered with Armenia since 2003, exchanging delegations to share ideas and best practices for military and emergency management. The partnership is part of a National Guard Bureau program that pairs officials from participating states with developing nations to promote better relations.

Report: Another Dry Week Takes Toll on Kansas Wheat

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The emerging Kansas winter wheat crop continues to suffer from warm, dry and windy weather. Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 25 percent of the wheat is now in poor to very poor condition. About 46 percent is rated as fair, with just 28 percent in good condition and 1 percent rated excellent. Ninety-seven percent of the wheat has emerged, the same as last year at this time but slightly ahead of the average of 94 percent. Among other crops, the Kansas cotton harvest was 84 percent complete as of Sunday. Growers had also cut 96 percent of the sunflower crop. Livestock producers are also being hit hard by the weather. Supplies of hay and forage are reported 71 percent short to very short across Kansas.


Former Kansas Bank Teller Sentenced for Embezzlement

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former teller at a northeast Kansas bank will spend 10 months in home confinement for embezzling more than $27,000 from the bank. The U.S. Attorney's office says 23-year-old Brittney L. Crane will also serve two years of supervised release under the sentence she received Monday. Crane worked at a branch of US Bank in Kansas City, Kansas. In a guilty plea she entered in August, she admitted processing forged counter withdrawal slips totaling $27,700 in late 2011. A video recording of one transaction showed her processing a forged withdrawal slip for 20-year-old Cierra Clayborn at a drive-thru window. Investigators said the two women met later in the day to split up the money. Clayborn, also of Kansas City, Kansas, has pleaded guilty to bank embezzlement and faces sentencing December 3.


Topeka Man Arrested Following Strange Steak Heist & Resale Attempt

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man is under arrest after allegedly swiping $150 worth of steaks from a grocery store, then trying to sell them at a nearby hookah bar. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the 43-year-old man was taken into custody Sunday evening outside another bar. He was being held Monday on suspicion of theft, obstruction and disorderly conduct. According to police, employees of Genie Hookah House called authorities saying a man carrying a milk crate full of steaks was trying to sell them to customers. When the customers declined, the man reportedly became upset and hinted he had a gun. Police later found him outside a bar and grill a block away. The steaks were determined to have been stolen from a grocery store.


KC Man Pleads Guilty in Accomplice's Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man whose accomplice in a home invasion robbery was fatally shot by the homeowner has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. The Kansas City Star reports 21-year-old Dominique Richardson also pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree burglary in the crime that resulted in the death of 17-year-old Trevor Garms. Prosecutors charged Richardson under a Missouri law that holds participants in dangerous felonies responsible if someone is killed during the crime. Richardson and Garms went to the home April 9 to steal a video game console and a big-screen TV. Prosecutors say Garms held the woman at gunpoint while Richardson looked for the items to steal. The woman grabbed her own handgun when Garms wasn't looking and shot him three times. Richardson is to be sentenced in February.

KC Helicopter Police Get Night Vision Goggles

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say new technology that came with recently acquired helicopters will dramatically improve their ability to fight crime at night. The police department received three new helicopters in September, and they came with a lot of high-tech equipment. Police say the most important new equipment might be night vision goggles. The goggles cost $10,500 each, so the department received only three pairs. Pilots began training on the new equipment last week. The Kansas City Star reports the pilots say the new equipment allows them to see people at night and more easily send information to officers on the ground. The Kansas Highway Patrol has used the night goggles for years. Besides fighting crime, they have helped find hunters lost in the woods and fishermen out on water.

Portuguese Firm Opens Plant in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An international firm based in Portugal plans to open a plastic packaging company in Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas City officials say the Logoplaste plant will bring about 80 jobs to the city. Logoplaste plans to invest $31.5 million equipping a 200,000-square-foot building for the plant. The firm manages more than 60 plants in 18 countries. The Kansas City Star reports that the Missouri Department of Economic Development will provide about $2 million in an incentive package for Logoplaste. The firm makes rigid plastic packaging that companies use for food and beverage, personal care, household care, and oil and lubricants.


St. Joseph Allows More Liquor Sales on Sunday

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Patrons of St. Joseph bars and taverns will be able to buy alcohol on Sundays. The city council on Monday approved an ordinance to allow bars and taverns to serve liquor by the drink on Sundays between 9 am and midnight. Before the change, only restaurant bars, which get 50 percent of their profit from food, were allowed to serve liquor on Sundays. The St. Joseph News-Press reports  that restaurant bars that serve on Sundays have to pay a $300 liquor license fee in addition to their regular liquor license. Bars and taverns will now be required to pay the same $300 fee to serve Sunday alcohol.

Topeka Man Sentenced to 33 Years in Fatal 2011 Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man will serve 33 years in federal prison without parole for shooting a liquor store clerk on Christmas Eve 2011. Federal prosecutors say 45-year-old Matthew Daniel Myers was sentenced Monday for one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Myers pleaded guilty in August to the federal firearms charge in a deal that included dismissing state charges of murder and robbery. Myers admitted that he shot 41-year-old Matthew Hill at a Hudson Liquor store in Topeka. He demanded money from Hill, who tried to retrieve a .38-caliber pistol from a drawer. Myers hit Hill with a crowbar, seized the pistol and shot him three times. A surveillance camera captured the shooting.

Teen Killed in ATV Accident Identified

PAOLA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified the Johnson County high school senior killed in a weekend ATV accident in eastern Kansas. The Miami County Sheriff's Office said Monday that Tyler Rathbun, a 17-year-old senior at Shawnee Mission East High School, died early Sunday when the ATV he was on rolled in a field outside Paola. The ATV driver was flown to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and two other passengers were uninjured. The Kansas City Star reports that Rathbun was the top soccer player for the Lancers. He also was offensive player of the year for the Sunflower League and received all-league and all-state honors last season after scoring a team record 22 goals. Shawnee Mission East coach Jamie Kelly says Rathbun's number 14 jersey will be retired.


KU Creates Center for Multimedia and TV Production

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Storytellers and media producers are being encouraged to use a new center on the fourth floor of the University of Kansas student union. The center is a joint venture between the university's school of journalism and the Union. It provides three video cameras, a "green screen" wall, a control room and other tools. Associate journalism professor Scott Reinardy says the center's activities will be determined by those who use it. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that officials envision the facility being used as a community news center. Students, others on the campus and Lawrence residents will be able to use the center to tell stories they can't do just on phones or laptops. The center opened in September and an official grand opening is likely this semester.


KC Chiefs' Charles Causes Stir Seeking Signature

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles has caused a stir after asking for Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's autograph following Sunday's game in Kansas City. Local television station KCTV aired footage of Charles waiting for Manning's signature after the Chiefs' 17-9 loss. Charles told the TV station he was getting the autograph for his mom. The story was picked up by several national media outlets, some of whom argued it was in poor taste to ask for an opponent's autograph after a loss, even though it's common for professional athletes in most sports to exchange jerseys and autographs. Texans running back Arian Foster tweeted that he got Charles' autograph at the 2010 Pro Bowl, and that he exchanges with players "damn near every game." Charles tweeted Tuesday: "Thank for the support and relax on the P Manning story, just two warriors showing each other respect."

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