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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, October 16, 2012



Kansas Rolls Out New Driver's License Design

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas driver's licenses are getting a new look and added security features to guard against counterfeiting and fraud. The Department of Revenue showed off the new design at an event Tuesday with Governor Sam Brownback and Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan. The changes include how the information is presented and additional security features hidden from the naked eye. Motorists will begin receiving the new licenses this week. Among the elements are photographs that are embedded on the back of the card that are visible only with ultraviolet light. Also gone is the black magnetic strip that once contained driver information. Revenue Department spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda says Kansas updates its driver's licenses every four to six years as technology changes.


Senator Steve Abrams Running for Senate President

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — State Senator Steve Abrams of Arkansas City says he plans to run for president of the Kansas Senate. Abrams, a Republican who has represented the 32nd District since 2008, says he would champion conservative principles if he is chosen Senate president. He promised to insist on civility while working with Governor Sam Brownback and the House to promote a conservative agenda. State Senator Susan Wagle, a Republican from Wichita, also plans to run for Senate president, if she defeats Democrat Patrick Cantwell, also from Wichita, in the Nov. 6 general election. Republican senators and senators-elect will meet in December to pick new leaders. Current Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, was one of eight moderate Republicans defeated by conservative candidates in the August primary.


UPDATE: Kansas Officials Dispute Prof's Criticism of Proposed School Standards

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials involved in drafting proposed science standards dispute an Emporia State University biology professor's criticism of the guidelines as weak. Matt Krehbiel is the state Department of Education official overseeing work on the standards for Kansas public schools. Krehbiel said Tuesday the goal is to concentrate on important core, scientific concepts. And State Board of Education Chairman David Dennis said he thinks the work is moving in the right direction. Emporia State professor John Richard Schrock said earlier Tuesday the proposed standards don't have enough material on such subjects as botany, zoology and microbiology. Kansas is working with 25 other states and the National Research Council on common standards for possible adoption in their public schools. The state Board of Education heard an update Tuesday.



Charge: Man Tried to Smuggle Cash from Afghanistan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has been charged with trying to smuggle $150,000 in cash from Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan to Kansas. The government alleges in a criminal information filed Tuesday that 50-year-old Donald Garst tried to evade currency reporting laws in May 2011 by concealing cash in a DHL shipping box for transport to Topeka. The U.S. attorney's office says Garst was formerly with the Army National Guard, but was working as a private contractor in Afghanistan at the time. Garst's lawyer, Christopher Joseph, says in an email that nothing in the charge alleges the cash was obtained unlawfully. Joseph says Garst acknowledges he mailed the money, and that details about why he did so will be revealed in future court proceedings.

Kansas Winter Wheat Planting Making Progress

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers are nearly done planting winter wheat, with 81 percent of the crop now seeded. Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service also said in a report Monday that 44 percent of the winter wheat has emerged. The agency even offered an early condition report for the 2013 crop, with 10 percent of the newly planted wheat already rated poor to very poor. Forty-eight percent of the wheat is rated in fair condition, with 40 percent rated good and 2 percent in excellent condition. Meanwhile, fall harvest is nearing the end for the Kansas corn crop, with 90 percent of it now cut. That is a couple of weeks earlier than usual. About 17 percent of the state's soybeans and 24 percent of the sorghum crop have been harvested.

Kansas Expects Mild Flu Season but Encourages Immunization

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials are expecting the state to have another relatively mild flu season, but they're still encouraging shots for nearly everyone 6 months or older. Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer and Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser had a Statehouse news conference Monday to promote getting vaccinated. Both received flu shots from a Walgreen Co. pharmacist during the event. The flu season typically starts in early October, but the state has yet to receive a report of any influenza cases. But Colyer said it's still wise to get a shot to reduce the chances of spreading the illness. Moser said the state's 2011-12 flu season was relatively mild because the winter weather was warmer than normal. He said the state is expecting the same pattern this winter.


Topeka Lawyer Charged with Money Laundering

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka lawyer faces federal charges for stealing more than $460,000 from his clients. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says in a release that 52-year-old Robert M. Telthorst is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. He's accused of taking clients' money for his own use from 2005 to August 2011. Online court records don't list a lawyer for Telthorst. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on the wire fraud charge and up to 20 years and a $500,000 fine for money laundering charge.

Former Death Row Warden Headlines Kansas Conference

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former death row warden from Georgia will headline a conference in Kansas next month on abolishing capital punishment. The 2012 Abolition Conference takes place November 10 in Olathe, sponsored by the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Allen Ault was responsible for overseeing executions as a death row warden in Georgia. Ault plans to talk about what he calls the traumatic impact of executions on himself and many of the corrections officers with whom he worked. Kansas Coalition executive director Mary Sloan says Ault's story highlights an issue sometimes forgotten in debates about capital punishment.


Nickerson Residents Upset with Plan to Drop Police

NICKERSON, Kan. (AP) — After hearing from several angry residents, the Nickerson City Council voted for the second time to disband the city's police department — but added a chance for a vote on the issue in April. The council voted last week to eliminate the police department after the chief resigned in early October. On Monday night, about 50 residents of the Reno County town blasted the decision. The Hutchinson News reports that council members voted again Monday to disband the department. But they included a provision that the public could vote in April to reinstate the department. Until then, the Reno County Sherriff's Department will provide law enforcement in Nickerson. Sheriff Randy Henderson warned that deputies respond to calls by priority, and they are often busy in Hutchinson, particularly on weekends.

Student Says Man with Gun Robbed Her on KU Campus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas student says she was robbed at gunpoint while she was on the campus in Lawrence. The student told police she was on a swing set Monday evening between Irving Hill Road and Stouffer Place Apartments when the man approached her, showed her a gun and demanded her property. The man left after the student gave him her cellphone and iPod. The robber is described as a black man about 6 feet, 2 inches tall and 170 pounds. He was wearing a black ski mask and a gray hooded sweatshirt.

Children's Discovery Center in Topeka Receives Grant

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Children's Discovery Center in Topeka is one of three interactive educational pilot sites chosen after a national competition. Officials at the center announced Monday that the selection comes with a $65,000 grant, which is part of an initiative called "Going Wild at Children's Museums." The center's expansion of its Outdoor Adventure was selected as part of the project funded by the Trustees' Philanthropy Fund of Fidelity Charitable. The center must raise another $65,000 to match the grant. The money would be used to create a large water garden and launch two other national initiatives. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the center will be a Monarch Watch site, and will develop programs and interactive outdoor challenges that can be used by children's museums nationwide.


Drought Leads to Closure of Hays Feeders Yard

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — The owners of Hays Feeders say the feed lot will close when the cattle are liquidated after January 1. Jerry Bohn is general manager of Pratt Feeders, which owns Hays Feeders and three other cattle yards in Kansas and Oklahoma. He says two years of drought caused over-capacity for cattle feeders, and the Hays yard was doing the least amount of business. Bohn says he and others hope that the economy will improve and the Hays yard will be reopened in the future. The Salina Journal reports some of the 16 employees will be transferred to other feed yards and some will stay in Hays to oversee the property.


Kansas Town Hosting Replica Vietnam Memorial Wall

VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita suburb of Valley Center is making last-minute preparations to host a granite replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. KAKE-TV reports that the famous "Moving Wall" will be escorted by American Legion riders Thursday morning into Valley Center's Lions Park. The memorial will be open 24 hours a day until it leaves Monday afternoon. The half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., has been touring the country for more than 20 years. American Legion volunteers are providing 24-hour security. Westar has donated the huge lights that will keep the wall lit at all times. The memorial honors the U.S. servicemen and women who served in the Vietnam War and bears the names of the more than 58,000 killed in the conflict.


Ex-Soldier Gets 10 Months for Kansas Sham Marriage

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas soldier has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for entering into a sham marriage so he could get additional military benefits and his Jamaican bride could become a legal immigrant. Joshua Priest briefly apologized at his hearing Monday in federal court in Wichita. The former Fort Riley private pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot rejected a request from prosecutors to be lenient because Priest had been cooperative. Priest had testified against his wife, Shannakay Hunter. The judge told Priest he violated the oath he took as a soldier. Belot also ordered restitution of nearly $30,000 for the fraudulently obtained housing and subsistence benefits given married soldiers.

Olathe Automotive Teacher Wins National Award

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe teacher who barely graduated from high school has been named the best automotive teacher in the country. Ed Hensley teaches an automotive repair program run by the Olathe School District that has students from 19 area high schools. The Kansas City Star reported Monday that Hensley learned this month that he was named national instructor of the year by the National Institute for Automotive Excellence. The 54-year-old Hensley says his teaching is motivated by his own high school experience. He says he was an indifferent student and had few plans when he graduated. And that held him back for years and made supporting his family more difficult. Hensley says he uses his story to help students understand how important it is to take high school seriously.

Head-On Crash Kills 2 Kansas Drivers

MULVANE, Kan. (AP) — Two people are dead and a third is hospitalized with serious injuries following a head-on collision in south-central Kansas. The crash occurred around 6:30 a.m. Monday on Kansas 15 near Mulvane, about 17 miles south of Wichita. The Kansas Highway Patrol says a northbound pickup truck entered the southbound lane and struck an oncoming pickup. Both drivers were killed. The patrol identified the driver of the northbound vehicle as 30-year-old Kyle Staab, of Arkansas City. The southbound driver was identified as 33-year-old Kristy Roszel, of Wichita. The patrol says both drivers were wearing seat belts. A 27-year-old passenger in the northbound truck was not buckled in; he was thrown from the vehicle and survived with serious injuries.

President Obama Orders US Flags at Half-Staff for Specter

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — President Barack Obama has ordered U.S. flags lowered to half-staff on the day of former Senator Arlen Specter's funeral. Specter died Sunday at his home in Philadelphia after a battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania. Obama said Monday that he was ordering U.S. flags lowered at the White House and other public buildings on the day of the funeral. Specter was born in Depression-era Kansas and served 30 years in the Senate. He's remembered as a pugnacious and prominent former moderate who played starring roles in Supreme Court confirmation hearings. He also is credited with developing the "single-bullet theory" posited by the Warren Commission in determining that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Appeals Court: Town Can Restrict Funeral Protests

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that a St. Louis suburb can enforce a funeral protest ordinance aimed at preventing picketing by an anti-gay Kansas church. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Tuesday reverses a previous ruling by a three-judge panel of the court. The panel ruling last year prohibited the St. Louis suburb of Manchester, Missouri from enforcing the law it drafted in response to activities by members of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church. Members of the church frequently protest at funerals of soldiers, claiming the deaths are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Tony Rothert represented Westboro member Shirley Phelps-Roper in the case and says a decision about whether to appeal will be made soon.

5 Missouri Charter Schools Deemed Financially Stressed

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The state says five Missouri charter schools are financially stressed. Four of the schools are in St. Louis — Carondolet Leadership Academy, Grand Center Arts Academy, South City Preparatory Academy and Jamaa Learning Center. The fifth is Pathway Academy in Kansas City. This is the first time the state has declared schools financially stressed under a new state law that requires more supervision of the publicly funded but independently run schools. The designation is based on ending balances in two key funds. The ruling gives the schools 45 days to submit their 2012-2013 budgets and plans to improve their financial condition. The schools' sponsors then will make suggestions for improvements. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education can withhold financial aid if the schools fail to comply.


Chiefs QB Cassel Cleared for Non-Contact Practice

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel, who sat out last week's game at Tampa Bay with a concussion, has been cleared for non-contact practice and could play in the Chiefs' next game on Oct. 28 against Oakland. If Cassel does get the start, it could trigger a quarterback controversy. Never very popular with fans, Cassel's stock has hit rock-bottom in Kansas City after he threw nine interceptions and had a hand in many of the team's NFL-leading 19 turnovers the first five games. His replacement, Brady Quinn, had two interceptions against the Buccaneers in his first start in almost three years as the Chiefs lost 38-10 and dropped to 1-5 going into this bye week. Cassel was on the practice field with the other quarterbacks Tuesday going through non-contact drills.


"Bruce Weber Era" Begins at Kansas State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Just about everyone on the Kansas State Wildcats men's basketball team is back this season — except the coach. Frank Martin has gone to the University of South Carolina, and former Illinois coach Bruce Weber has taken over. Returning players will be the key as Weber tries to prove that a couple of lean years in Champaign were an aberration. He's off to a good start so far, having successfully "re-recruited" 12 lettermen, including six who started 10 games or more for the Wildcats in 2011. Seniors Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving all have considerable experience, and other players have logged meaningful minutes. McGruder led the team in scoring and 10 other categories last season; he and Henriquez were named to the Big 12's all-defensive team. Retaining that group was a crucial first step for Weber, and the players say they are buying into Weber's way.


Kansas School Board Reviews Science Standards Work

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State Board of Education members are reviewing the progress of Kansas and other states in drafting common science standards. The board planned to hear Tuesday afternoon from the state official overseeing work on the standards and from a member of the state's standards-writing committee. Kansas is working with 25 other states and the National Research Council on common standards for possible adoption in their public schools. A draft of the proposed standards released in May treats evolution as well-established science and a crucial concept for students to learn. Kansas officials expect another draft to be released in November. Past work on science standards in Kansas has been overshadowed by debates about how evolution should be taught. Kansas currently has evolution-friendly standards, but state law requires them to be updated.

**this story has been updated. Please see above.


Kansas Board Told Draft Standards Light on Science

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An Emporia State University biology professor says proposed science standards under consideration for Kansas public schools aren't rigorous enough. Professor John Richard Schrock said Tuesday the proposed standards don't have enough material on such subjects as botany, zoology and microbiology. Schrock says those subjects will get shorted in classrooms if the proposed standards are adopted. Kansas is working with 25 other states and the National Research Council on common standards for possible adoption in their public schools. The State Board of Education was hearing an update Tuesday from the Kansas official overseeing work on the standards and from a member of the state's standards-writing committee. A draft of the proposed standards was released in May and another is expected next month.

**this story has been updated. Please see above. 

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