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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, December 5, 2012



Kansas Governor Says Lawmakers Must Fill Revenue Gap

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says Kansas lawmakers should take another look at his suggestions to pay for massive income tax cuts he signed into law earlier this year. The Republican governor told hundreds of people at a forum in Overland Park on Tuesday that he won't consider restoring tax rates to previous levels. In January, the state will reduce individual income tax rates, drop the top tax rate to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent, and increase the standard deductions claimed by married couples and heads-of-household. The state also will exempt the owners of 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses from taxes. Legislative researchers estimate the cuts will be worth $4.5 billion over the next six years and create collective budget shortfalls approaching $2.5 billion during the same period.

Huelskamp Calls House Demotion Vindictive

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas First District Representative Tim Huelskamp says he still has no answers for what he calls a vindictive and petty move by House leadership to remove him from key congressional committees. Huelskamp, a Republican, said Wednesday that his only explanation is that he didn't vote with House Speaker John Boehner on key votes over the past two years. Huelskamp and Justin Amash of Michigan will lose their seats on the House Budget Committee chaired by Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan next year. Representatives Walter Jones of North Carolina and David Schweikert of Arizona are losing their seats on the House Financial Services Committee. The move is underscoring a divide in the Republican Party between Tea Party-supported conservatives and House GOP leadership. Huelskamp will also lose his seat on the House Agriculture Committee.


State Grants $28M Hike in Kansas Gas Service Rates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have approved a 7 percent rate increase for the state's largest natural gas company that will generate $28 million a year in new revenues for the utility. The Kansas Corporation Commission said a legal settlement it accepted Wednesday will raise bills for average residential customers of Kansas Gas Service by less than $2 a month. The settlement was reached in October by the company, the KCC's staff and other parties. They included the Citizens' Utility Ratepayers Board, a state agency representing residential customers and small businesses. The agreement will allow Kansas Gas Service to earn a pretax profit of 10.6 percent on its operations. The company originally sought a rate increase of nearly $51 million. It has about 632,000 customers in Kansas.

Kansas School Boards Want to Change Union Bargaining

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Association of School Boards says it wants teacher evaluations to be separate from union negotiations. The association voted at its convention last week to lobby lawmakers to remove evaluations from items that must be negotiated with teachers. Kansas school districts currently are changing the evaluation process for educators and administrators. By the 2014-2015 school year, districts must meet several federal requirements, including evaluating teachers based in part on students' progress. Mark Tallman, an official with the association, told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the association is concerned some districts will have trouble implementing the requirements. But Peg Dunlap, of the Kansas National Education Association, says negotiating evaluations is crucial because it ensures teachers have input in the process.


Kansas GOP Senators to Discuss Committees Next Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republicans in the Kansas Senate plan to meet next week to discuss filling committee chairmanships. The all-GOP Organization, Calendar and Rules Committee is expected to meet Monday. Under the Senate's rules, it designates committee chairmen and makes committee assignments. The panel includes incoming Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita, Vice President Jeff King of Independence and Majority Leader Terry Bruce of Hutchinson. It has six other members selected by their fellow Republicans. The Senate is likely to see widespread turnover in committee chairmanships because GOP conservatives ousted eight moderate incumbents during August primaries and broke the moderates' hold over the chamber. Highly visible chairmanships such as Education, Judiciary and Federal and State Affairs were held by moderates who lost their seats.


Topeka to Allow Firearms in Occupied Cars

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka residents soon will be allowed to carry loaded handguns in their vehicles. The city council and Mayor Bill Bunten voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance that deletes a current ban on loaded handguns in vehicles. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that in exchange for that vote, the governing board will be asked in the near future to make it illegal to possess a firearm while committing more than a dozen specific misdemeanors. Police Chief Ron Miller says the arrangement is an attempt to allow law-abiding people to carry loaded guns in their vehicles but ban gun possession by those who commit crimes. Miller says a future proposal would make it illegal to possess a firearm while committing misdemeanors such as assault, battery, stalking and theft.

Missouri River Water Being Sought by Western States

DENVER (AP) — Federal officials are considering creation of a pipeline to pump water from the Missouri River to western states to deal with increasing overuse of the Colorado River. The diversion is listed as a possibility after review of more than 100 ideas submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Bureau officials said Tuesday the Missouri River Reuse Project will be reviewed as part of a federal study on water supply for the West. According to the Denver Post, Colorado officials have not taken a position on the proposals. The Missouri diversion described in federal documents would require a pipeline across Kansas, with water used to fill surface reservoirs and recharge depleted aquifers along the way to metro Denver.


Fort Leavenworth Unit Honored by Army

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Fort Riley military police company has been honored by the Army's Corrections Command for its service in operating the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. The Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th Military Police Battalion of the 15th Military Police Brigade, was presented Tuesday with the Brigadier General Thomas F. Barr Award. The unit competed against 13 other military police companies in the Army, including those stationed in Germany and South Korea. The award covers accomplishments by the unit from October 2011 through this September, the federal fiscal year. During that time the unit returned from a deployment to Iraq and returned to its duties supporting the operation of the disciplinary barracks, the military's only maximum security prison. The unit is led by 1st Lieutenant Michael Imdieke and 1st Sergeant Britt Cogan.


Hawker Beechcraft Moves Closer to Bankruptcy Exit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Plane maker Hawker Beechcraft Corporation is now a step closer to exiting bankruptcy after a court ruling approving the company's disclosure statement. The ruling by the bankruptcy court on Wednesday means Hawker Beechcraft can begin soliciting approval of its plan of reorganization from its creditors. The voting is expected to be completed by January 22. The company says it will seek court approval to exit bankruptcy at a confirmation hearing scheduled for January 31. Hawker Beechcraft says its reorganization plan is supported by a committee of unsecured creditors and the majority of its creditors. It plans to rename itself Beechcraft Corporation. The new company will focus on its more profitable turboprop, piston, special mission and military aircraft, as well as its parts, maintenance, repairs and refurbishment business.


Police: Woman in Parking Lot Died of Heart Attack

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Lenexa police say a woman whose body was found in a grocery store parking lot died of a heart attack. KMBC-TV reports a person passing by the area called police after coming across the woman's body in an Aldi parking lot just after dawn Tuesday. Police spokesman Dan Friesen says the man went to see if he could help but discovered the woman might have been lying there for a while. The woman, who appears to be in her late 50s, was next to her rental car.


Salina Considers LED Lighting for Downtown

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Salina city commissioners are considering a $3.1 million proposal to upgrade lighting downtown. The Salina Journal reports that commissioners said this week that they liked the $3.1 million proposal by Johnson Controls to replace 347 outdated lights downtown with LED lights. If approved, the lights would be installed by Nov. 23, 2013. Johnson Controls says the current decorative lights, which the city owns, were installed in the 1980s and are outdated. The lights cost the city $6,995 a year to replace and maintain. Johnson Controls says the LED lights are lower maintenance and would eventually save the city money in operation costs. The new lights will occasionally have to be replaced but are expected to be at 70 percent of their original brightness in 23 years.


Kansas Star to Open Part of Permanent Casino Soon

MULVANE, Kan. (AP) — Part of the permanent Kansas Star Casino near Mulvane will open next week as the venue begins the move out of its temporary facility. Officials with Kansas Star said Tuesday that the partial opening will reduce the number of days the casino will have to be closed during the transition. The Wichita Eagle reports the temporary casino will be open through midnight December 9. It will close December 10 and 11, then reopen at 8 am on December 12 in a portion of the permanent casino. The entire permanent casino will open December 21. The permanent casino will include about 1,800 slot machines, 45 table games and 10 table poker rooms. The temporary casino area will be redesigned into an arena for concerts, sporting events, trade shows and equestrian and other events.

Feds Searching for Room for 1,000 Workers in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The federal government is looking for office space to house about 1,000 workers in downtown Kansas City. The workers are currently employed at the Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City, which is scheduled to close by December 2014. The General Services Administration has informed potential landlords it needs up to 168,588 square feet of space. The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday that the deadline for responses is December 21, with employees expected to be in their new offices by December 2014. The Bannister Federal Complex was built in World War II to manufacture warplane engines. Other government agencies formerly housed at the complex have moved out in recent years. Plans for the future of the complex have not been determined.


Chiefs Players Attend Belcher Memorial Service

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Several players for the Kansas City Chiefs attended a memorial service for teammate Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend and then fatally shot himself in the head. Belcher killed 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins on Saturday at the home they shared in Kansas City with their 3-month-old daughter. He then drove to the Chiefs practice facility at Arrowhead Stadium, where he killed himself in front of team officials, who pleaded with him to put down his gun. Retired Chiefs Hall of Famer Bobby Bell said after the private hour-long service that general manager Scott Pioli, who witnessed Belcher's suicide, spoke during the service. Bell said an uncle of Belcher also spoke. The service was held at a church that Belcher and Perkins attended. Several other Chiefs players declined comment after the service.


Daughter of Chiefs Player to Receive Windfall

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The estate or guardian of the infant of the Chiefs player who killed her mother before turning a gun on himself will receive more than $1 million under terms of the NFL's collective-bargaining agreement. Jovan Belcher's 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, stands to receive $108,000 annually over the next four years, $48,000 in the fifth year and then $52,000 each year until age 18. She'll continue to receive that amount until age 23 if she attends college. The beneficiary of Belcher, who was in his fourth season, also will receive $600,000 in life insurance, plus $200,000 for each credited season. There is also $100,000 in a retirement account that will go to his beneficiary or estate. Players' beneficiaries are kept confidential. The current collective bargaining agreement was ratified in August 2011.

Kansas City Zoo Might Obtain Second Polar Bear

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Zoo's male polar bear might be getting a female companion. Zoo officials said Tuesday keepers of a polar bear survival plan decided the Kansas City Zoo is the best place for Berlin, a 23-year-old female. She is living temporarily at a St. Paul, Minnesota zoo after her home at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth flooded this summer. Kansas City's 6-year-old male polar bear, Nikita, has been alone in the zoo's new $11 million exhibit since August 2010. Zoo director Randy Wistoff told The Kansas City Star that the zoo's veterinarian will go to St. Paul Thursday to evaluate Berlin. The decision will then be made whether to bring Berlin to Kansas City. Conservationists say despite her age, Berlin is still capable of breeding.


Central Kansas Farm Brothers Expand Parody Song Repertoire

ASSARIA, Kan. (AP) — Three central Kansas brothers who became an Internet sensation this summer with their parody song "I'm Farming and I Grow It" have a new tune that's become an overnight hit. The Peterson brothers on Tuesday night released a parody of the song "Gangnam Style," changing the title to "Farmer Style."  The Wichita Eagle says the song by Greg, Nathan and Kendal Peterson had well over 130,000 hits on You Tube by noon Wednesday. The video features the brothers dancing Gangnam style with other family members and includes farming scenes from their farm near Assaria. Their first video, a parody of LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It," went viral in June, garnering nearly 8 million hits. The brothers have been invited to speak and perform at various multi-state agricultural events.

K-State's Klein Voted AP Big 12 Player of Year

Kansas State University quarterback Collin Klein is the AP's Big 12 offensive player of the year and Devonte Fields of Texas Christian University picked up the honor on defense. Klein received 14 of the 18 votes Wednesday from members of the media who regularly cover the league. West Virginia's Tavon Austin got three votes and Terrance Williams of Baylor received the remaining vote. Fields got seven first-place votes for the defensive award to beat out Kansas State's Arthur Brown, who received four. TCU's Jason Verrett, Iowa State's A.J. Klein and Oklahoma's Aaron Colvin and Tony Jefferson also received votes. Fields was also the runaway winner of defensive newcomer of the year, while Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk was voted the conference's top newcomer on offense.


KU Researchers Get Grant to Study Population Changes in Garden City

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas researchers have received a $40,000 grant to study how a southwest Kansas community's 30-year population shift has changed local schools and what the results can teach educators across the country. The Wichita Eagle reports that associate professor Jennifer Ng and professor Don Stull will conduct the study in Garden City, which has seen continuous immigration from around the world since the early 1980s. The professors say their work will have broad significance as communities across the Midwest, southeast U.S. and Canada are experiencing many of the same challenges and opportunities. The duo will interview teachers, administrators, parents and students to learn how the community's demographics affect daily operations of a school district whose students include speakers of 21 languages other than English.


KC-Based Kauffman Foundation Picks New President

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The former head of financial services software maker DST Systems Inc. has been tapped to lead the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The entrepreneurship-focused Kansas City-based foundation announced the selection of Thomas McDonnell on Tuesday. The foundation describes McDonnell in a news release as "an experienced business leader with a track record of building global organizations that are both innovative and philanthropic." McDonnell had been a Kauffman trustee since 2003 and chairman of the board since 2006. He succeeds Carl Schramm, who served as the foundation's president and CEO from 2002 to 2011. In September, McDonnell announced he was retiring as chief executive officer of DST Systems, which also is based in Kansas City. He had worked there for more than 40 years. DST Systems has about 13,000 employees worldwide.


More Than 12,000 Pills Stolen from Salina Pharmacy

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Police say someone stole more than 12,000 pills of various pain medications from a Salina pharmacy. Lieutenant Scott Siemsen says the theft occurred at Jim's Pharmacy during a burglary early Monday. The medicine was valued at over $16,000. Siemsen says someone used rocks to break a window at the pharmacy. Surveillance video shows a person wearing a camouflage coat and mask entering the store and stealing the pills and cash. The total loss was estimated at $18,167. The thief stole Diazepan, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Fentanyl and hydrocodone. The Salina Journal reports Siemsen said a break-in at Salina Dental might have been related to the theft. A window was broken at the business but nothing appeared to be missing. Damage was estimated at $200.


'In Cold Blood' Murderers Being Investigated in 1959 Florida Killings

OSPREY, Fla. (AP) — A Florida detective wants to exhume the bodies of two Kansas murderers who were featured in the iconic true crime book "In Cold Blood." Sarasota County Sheriff's detective Kimberly McGath says she believes there is evidence linking Perry Smith and Richard Hickock to the 1959 murders of a family of four in a rural community south of Sarasota. Smith and Hickock were convicted in Kansas of murdering Herb Clutter, his wife and their two daughters, also in 1959. The murders were the subject of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood." McGath says the Walker family's killer left behind his DNA on a preserved piece of clothing. Officials say if Smith and Hickock are exhumed, the DNA can be compared. Smith and Hickock visited Florida after the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas.


911 Tape: Chiefs Player's Mom Begs Dying Girlfriend to Live

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Recordings of a 911 call show Jovan Belcher's mother begging her son's dying girlfriend to stay alive after the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker shot her. Cheryl Shepherd called 911 Saturday shortly after Belcher shot 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins at their home. Belcher then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and shot himself in the head in the presence of his general manager and coach. On the Kansas City Fire Department recordings, Shepherd yells at Perkins: "Stay with me, the ambulance is on the way. Stay with me." Shepherd tells the dispatcher that Perkins is "just barely" breathing and that she is bleeding. Belcher's mother also says her son and Perkins were arguing and that he had left the house. Police say they found Perkins's body on the bedroom floor with multiple gunshot wounds.

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