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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, April 18, 2012




UPDATE: Escaped Inmate Recaptured; 2 Still at Large               

The Kansas Department of Corrections has announced that Drew Edward Wade, one of four escaped Ottawa County Jail inmates, has been apprehended and taken into custody in North Platte, Nebraska. Further details are pending on the apprehension.

Two other inmates, Santos Carrera and Eric James, remain at large.
They are considered armed and dangerous. If anyone has information pertaining to the whereabouts of Santos Carrera-Morales, and/or Eric James, please call 911, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-572-7463 or Ellsworth Correctional Facility at 785-472-5501.


Kansas Senate Panel to Finish Budget Plan Next Week 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has postponed a vote until next week on a proposed state budget exceeding $14 billion. The Ways and Means Committee reviewed dozens of budget issues Wednesday and began fashioning a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. But the panel didn't finish its work. The committee has yet to consider an increase in general state aid to public schools or providing funds to cities and counties so they can keep their property taxes in check. The committee now plans to complete its budget proposal and vote on it after the full Legislature returns April 25 from a long break. The House Appropriations Committee plans to draft its own version of the budget and has scheduled meetings for Thursday and Friday.


Sheriff: Escaped KS Inmates Used Homemade Knives 

MINNEAPOLIS, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas sheriff says four inmates who escaped from his jail were armed with homemade knives and overpowered guards after complaining about a broken water line in the holding cell area. Three inmates were still on the loose late Wednesday afternoon, including a convicted murderer. They'd been transferred to the Ottawa County jail in January to help alleviate prison overcrowding. Sheriff Keith Coleman tells The Salina Journal that the inmates overpowered the guards, opened the cell doors and got outside. He says the guards suffered only minor injuries. Messages left by The Associated Press for Colemen weren't immediately returned. The inmates escaped around 5 am. One was quickly apprehended. Prison officials say the jail in Minneapolis, Kansas, had passed an inspection before it was allowed to house prison inmates.


Kansas Jail Had Passed Test to House Prison Inmates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A state corrections official says a north-central Kansas county jail where four inmates escaped had passed an inspection before it was allowed to house inmates transferred from a state prison.  Four of the 22 men who were sent to the Ottawa County jail from the Ellsworth Correctional Facility escaped Wednesday morning. One inmate was quickly apprehended, but the other three inmates...including a convicted murderer...remain at large. Department of Corrections official Jeremy Barclay says the agency has criteria that county jails must meet before signing contracts to house state prison inmates. As of last Friday, there were 87 inmates being housed in county jails.  Barclay says the state prison system is facing overcrowding and that officials are asking legislators for funds to expand bed space at Ellsworth.


Sex Offender Escapes from Lansing Prison

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — Lansing Correctional Facility officials say a 59-year-old child sex offender has escaped.  The prison says Gary Leslie Furthmyer's escape was discovered early today (WED). He escaped from his minimum security assignment at a steam plant but further details were not available.  Furthmyer is serving a six- to 25-year sentence for a 1985 conviction in Sedgwick County for indecent liberties with a child and aggravated failure to appear. He previously escaped in 1988 and returned to prison in 1993.  


Kansas Regulators Grant Westar $50M Rate Increase

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have granted Westar Energy a $50 million rate increase that will add an average of $3.54 a month to residential customers' bills. Topeka-based Westar is the state's biggest electric utility. The increase was contained in a multi-party agreement approved Wednesday by the Kansas Corporation Commission. The agreement allows Westar shareholders to earn a 10 percent profit on their investments. Westar says the extra revenue will also help it maintain customer services, including tree pruning. Westar originally sought a rate increase of $91 million, while the Corporation Commission staff recommended a hike of $33 million.


Kobach Still Seeks Change in KS Citizenship Rule

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach remains optimistic that he can persuade Kansas legislators to put a proof-of-citizenship rule for first-time voters in place ahead of this year's presidential election.  A critic of Kobach's efforts said today (WED) that tactics his allies are using to keep the issue alive are underhanded. But Kobach said they're trying to make sure both chambers vote.  A law enacted last year will require people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas to give election officials proof that they're U.S. citizens. But the rule doesn't take effect until January, and Kobach wants to move its effective date up to June 15.  His proposal passed the House, but a Senate committee hasn't voted on it.  


Kansan's Big Lottery Win Boosts State Revenue

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas resident who won a share of a $656 million multi-state lottery jackpot last month could provide a bump of nearly $8 million in state income tax collections.  Kansas Public Radio reports ( ) that the tax the anonymous resident will pay has already been added to the revenue estimate that lawmakers are using in writing a new state budget.  The Kansas resident held one of three winning tickets sold around the country for the March 30 drawing of the Mega Millions game. The individual took a one-time cash payment of nearly $158 million, worth about $110million after all taxes are paid.


KS Senate Panel Hopes to Finish Proposed Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee hopes to finish work on a proposed state budget exceeding $14 billion.  The Ways and Means Committee is meeting today (WED) to review dozens of budget issues and fashion a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.  The committee plans to consider proposing an increase in general state aid to public schools and providing funds to cities and counties so they can keep their property taxes in check.  The budget approved by the committee will go to the full Senate for debate after the full Legislature returns next week from its annual spring break.  The House Appropriations Committee plans to draft its own version of the budget and has scheduled meetings for Thursday and Friday.


KS Senate Panel Reaffirms Stance on Pay Issues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has reaffirmed its support for pay raises and longevity bonuses for some state workers as it works on a proposed budget.  The Ways and Means Committee decided yesterday (TUE) to include both items in its version of a spending plan for state government for the fiscal year beginning July 1.  The committee and the Senate previously approved a proposal to give state workers with 10 or more years of service a bonus of $50 for each year they've worked for the state. The cost to the state would be $12 million.  Senators also previously backed a plan to provide nearly $9 million worth of raises to state workers whose salaries are below the pay of their private-sector counterparts.  


Former Owner of Minor-League Basketball Team Admits Tax Evasion, Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The former owner of a minor league basketball team has pleaded guilty in Kansas to tax evasion and bank fraud. The U.S. Attorney's office says 52-year-old James Clark, of Overland Park, entered the pleas Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas. Clark owned the Kansas City Knights, who played in the early 2000s at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. Clark admitted withholding more than $500,000 in payroll taxes from employees of his company, SWISH Holding Corp., but failing to pay the money to the Internal Revenue Service. He used the money for other purposes, including operation of the basketball team. Clark also admitted submitting false information to a bank when he applied and received a line of credit worth more than $1 million. Sentencing is set for July.

SD Jury Awards Kansas Couple Nearly $60K

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — A jury in South Dakota has awarded nearly $60,000 to a Kansas couple hit by a bus while walking in a crosswalk. That's short of the $100,000 that the attorney for tourists Richard and Mary Russell had been seeking. The Daily Republic reports that the lawyer representing the city of Mitchell and the former bus driver argued that the couple should get no more than $38,000 for medical bills and pain and suffering. Jurors spent Wednesday weighing the dollar amount the couple should get. The trial came nearly three years after the Russells were hit near the Corn Palace tourist attraction in June 2009. The bus driver, Julie Payne, later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor careless driving and was fined about $100. She no longer works for the city.


Frontenac Mother Charged with Toddler's Death

FRONTENAC, Kan. (AP) — The mother of a 13-month-old boy who died five months ago in Frontenac is charged with murder in his death.  Crawford County authorities have charged Cara M. Lloyd with first-degree murder in the death of her son, identified in court records as C.J. Jr.  The Joplin Globe reports that police were called to a Frontenac home on October 29 concerning an unresponsive child. The child later died at a Pittsburg hospital.  County Attorney Michael Gayoso said the child died at the home of a friend of the mother's. His father was in jail at the time. Gayoso declined to say what caused the child's death.  Cara Lloyd is being held in the Crawford County Jail on $500,000 bond. It was not immediately clear if she had an attorney.


TransCanada Submits New Route for Oil Pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) — TransCanada says it has submitted a proposal for a new route through Nebraska for the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline. The company said in a statement Wednesday that it has submitted a planned route for the pipeline to Nebraska officials. The state has become a focus of concern for the 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. President Barack Obama blocked the pipeline earlier this year, citing uncertainty over a planned route intended to avoid Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region. Details of the new route were not immediately available. A spokeswoman for the State Department said officials had not received notification of a new route. State Department approval is needed because the $7 billion pipeline crosses a U.S. border.


Plane Lands in Western Nebraska for Pregnant Passenger

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — A plane had to make an emergency landing in western Nebraska because a pregnant passenger needed to get to a hospital.  SkyWest Airlines spokesman Rob Brewer tells the North Platte Telegraph that the woman went into labor yesterday (TUE) while the plane was en route from Kansas City to Salt Lake City.  The SkyWest plane, which was officially Delta flight 4781, arrived in North Platte at 7:21pm Tuesday with 62 passengers.  The woman was taken by ambulance to Great Plains Regional Medical Center, and the plane continued on to its destination about an hour after it landed.  The woman was released from the hospital late Tuesday. A hospital spokesman declined Wednesday to provide any details about her case, so it wasn't immediately clear whether she gave birth.


Missouri Court: Kansas City Boy Can Sue for Sex Discrimination

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that a boy may file a sex discrimination lawsuit against the Kansas City School District for alleged sexual assaults by a fellow elementary student.  Yesterday's (TUE) ruling marked the first time the state Appeals Court has addressed whether the Missouri Human Rights Act allows a public school district to be sued for sex discrimination over actions involving two students.  The boy sued the Kansas City district over alleged sexual harassment and assaults by another boy in an elementary school restroom. He argued the school staff knew of the problems but failed to stop them.  A trial judge dismissed the lawsuit. But the Court of Appeals said his claim met the requirements of the Missouri Human Rights Act for filing a discrimination case.


KS Gov Touts New Water Conservation Law

COLBY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is touting a new water conservation law aimed at extending the life of the Ogallala Aquifer.  Brownback traveled to the northwestern Kansas town of Colby yesterday (TUE) to re-enact his signing of a bill that lets groundwater management districts create conservation areas within their borders.  Management districts can impose special controls on water use in those areas. The policy is designed to encourage local communities to pursue their own conservation efforts.  Brownback originally signed the bill March 30, and the new law took effect last week.  It was part of a package of water conservation proposals pushed this year by the governor. Another new law, taking effect in July, ends the state's "use it or lose it" policy on water rights.


Black Rhino Dies at Sedgwick County Zoo

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — One of the most popular animals at the Sedgwick County Zoo has died.  Zoo officials say Eugene, an Eastern black rhinoceros, died Tuesday. At the age of 32, he was one of the oldest black rhinos in the nation.  Mike Quick, the zoo's curator of animals, says zoo officials were trying to decide whether to euthanize Eugene when he died on his own. A necropsy determined Eugene died from a rupture in his bowel.  The Wichita Eagle reports the rhino was at the zoo since 1981 and was a favorite of visitors and staff.  Quick says Eugene fathered several rhino calves that have been sent to other zoos, including one at the Kansas City Zoo and one at the St. Louis Zoo.


KS Woman Pleads Guilty to $470K Theft from Employer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors plan to seek prison time for a Topeka woman who pleaded no contest to stealing more than $470,000 from her former employer.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 53-year-old Diane Brandenburg is scheduled for sentencing July 6 in Shawnee County District Court. Her lawyer plans to ask for probation.  Brandenburg pleaded no contest Monday to three felony counts stemming from her thefts from a North Topeka sheet metal company where she worked as the business manager. Several other counts were dropped, but both sides agreed that Brandenburg will pay $470,000 in restitution.  Prosecutors said that from early 2008 to mid-April 2009, Brandenburg wrote hundreds of company checks to herself but entered them in a computer as payments to vendors. She used the money for gambling.


Complaint Targets Reno County Commission Prayers

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Reno County Commission is considering changing the tradition of starting every meeting with a prayer.  The commission was told last week that a national organization called Americans United for Separation of Church and State had contacted commission. The group said it had received a complaint about the prayers from a county resident.  County Counselor Joe O'Sullivan told the commission that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in favor of the national group in other cases.  The Hutchinson News reports that commissioners said they would ask ministers who offered the prayers if they would be willing to offer non-sectarian prayers. If the ministers decline, the commission might consider having a moment of silence.


Santorum's Departure Doesn't Affect KS Delegates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Rick Santorum has left the Republican presidential race, but the Kansas delegates he won in the state's GOP caucuses aren't yet free to declare their support for presumed nominee Mitt Romney.  Kansas Republican Party officials say they're waiting for official word from Santorum's now-suspended campaign on whether he'll release his delegates from their commitment to vote for him at the GOP national convention.  The former Pennsylvania senator won the March 10 caucuses in Kansas and claimed 33 of the state's 40 convention delegates. The rest went to Romney.  The Kansas GOP will finish picking the delegates April 28. Several who've already been selected told The Associated Press that they still feel bound to Santorum until he releases them.


Arson Suspected in Fatal KC Fire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police detectives are investigating the death of a man pulled from a burning house as a possible homicide.  The fire early today (WED) is being investigated as arson.  Fire department spokesman Battalion Chief Lew Hendricks says firefighters found the home engulfed in flames when they arrived. They say they found a man sitting in a chair and were able to pull him from the house but he was pronounced dead at a hospital.  


Vendor Tries for Record Nacho During Kansas Relays

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — This weekend's Kansas Relays will include a different kind of competition.  While track and field events go on around Memorial Stadium Saturday, the food vendor for Kansas Athletics will be trying to build a world-record nacho plate.  Rick Brown, general manager of Centerplate, says the goal is to build a nacho plate that is 80 feet long, 3 feet wide and 4,600 pounds. That will require 1,200 pounds of beans, 860 pounds of beef, 860 pounds of nacho cheese and 600 pounds of tortilla chips.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports the current record is a 3,999 plate built by a Massachusetts restaurant in October.  A state official will monitor the safety of the food, which will be served from noon to 2:30pm Saturday.


Fort Riley Brigade Gets Updated Vehicles

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — A brigade of the Army's 1st Infantry Division is breaking in new vehicles at Fort Riley.  Nearly 200 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles have arrived at the northeast Kansas post over the past month and issued to units of the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team.  The 1st Infantry Division says the vehicles have updated technology that improves the ability of soldiers to be aware of their surroundings.  Lt. Col. Michael Henderson said the tank can hit targets at distances of more than 4,000 meters, allowing the crew to strike an enemy without being exposed to return fire.  Additional vehicles will arrive later this year for other Fort Riley units.


Eisenhower Memorial Staff Connects with Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The executive director of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission says an Abilene repository will play a role in the interpretation of the 34th president's military and political career.  Carl Reddel, a historian and retired Air Force general, was meeting yesterday (TUE) with staff at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene. He and the commission are developing an electronic memorial that will link to the millions of pages of data archived in Kansas to help explain the Eisenhower legacy.  Reddel says work on the physical memorial in the nation's capital continues to progress.  Some critics have objected to architect Frank Gehry's proposed design of the Washington memorial. But commission members have been unanimous in supporting the design, saying Gehry followed their direction and consulted with Eisenhower's family.


Kansas City Event on May 5 Aims at Breaking Costumed Dog Record

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City promoter is hoping to break a Guinness world record by parading at least 700 costumed dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, down a city street on Cinco de Mayo.  Promoter Mark Valentine says the parade will raise money for The Pet Connection, a no-kill shelter on the Kansas side of the metro area.  Parade participants will pay a $5 entry fee to benefit the shelter.  Valentine says the world record for most costumed dogs doesn't specify a breed, and he thinks there will be more than enough entries to break it.  The parade starts at 11am on May 5 - in Kansas City's Crossroads Art District. All canine entrants must be leashed and in costume. Registrations will be accepted onsite.


KS School Cancels Classes afterJail Escape

MINNEAPOLIS, Kan. (AP) — North Ottawa County schools are closed for the day after four people broke out of the county jail in Minneapolis early this (WED) morning.  Superintendent Larry Combs says he initially called a two-hour delay after hearing of the escapes, then called classes off completely after being told the schools would have to be on full lockdown.  Kansas Highway Patrolman Ben Gardner told The Salina Journal the escape happened about 4:45am.  One of the men was quickly apprehended.  Authorities have identified the other escapees as 22-year-olds Santos Carrera and Eric James, and 21-year old Drew Wade.  Gardner says the men are believed to be in a gold or brown Nissan. The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office refused to offer details about the men.

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

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