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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Kansas Revenues Beat July Estimate 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say revenue collections beat estimates by $3.1 million in the first month of the new fiscal year. A report Wednesday from the Department of Revenue says July's figures were boosted by strong sales tax collections, which were $9.1 million higher than expected. Overall revenues for the month totaled $425.4 million. Among other categories, individual income tax collections in July topped expectations by $3.4 million. But corporate income taxes came in $1 million below the figure predicted earlier by economists and researchers. Severance taxes on production from Kansas oil wells also missed the estimate, by nearly $1.2 million.


Lawmaker Pledges Scrutiny for Kansas Court Nominee 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A key Kansas lawmaker is promising that Governor Sam Brownback's next appointee to the state Court of Appeals will be thoroughly scrutinized during a special legislative session. Independence Republican Jeff King chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. King said Wednesday he's planning a confirmation hearing for the yet-to-be-named judge when the special session opens September 3. King also said the committee will meet as long as necessary that day. King dismissed a claim by Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley that considering the appointment during the special session is intended to minimize scrutiny of the appointee. The Republican governor has until August 29 to nominate the judge, whose appointment requires Senate confirmation under a new Kansas law. Wednesday was the governor's deadline for applications for the judgeship. Brownback isn't releasing candidates' names.


Kansas Delegation Leery of Huelskamp's Bill on National Gay Marriage Ban

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas congressman's legislation seeking a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage has picked up more support, but not from his Kansas colleagues. Republican Representative Tim Huelskamp's bill has picked up at least 47 co-sponsors in the U.S. House since its introduction a month ago. That includes 20 supporters added in July. The Hutchinson News reports that absent from the list of co-sponsors are Kansas's other three House members, all Republicans. U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo says he strongly believes in defending traditional marriage and is looking at the amendment carefully. Representatives Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins declined comment. Huelskamp's legislation is currently in a subcommittee. He introduced it after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June.


Kansas Democrats Want to Re-Examine Voting Laws

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Some Wichita Democrats want Kansas legislators to use the special session in September to fix a problem they say exists in the state's new voting laws. Currently, more than 12,000 voter registration applications are in suspense because individuals lacked proof of citizenship when they registered to vote through the state Division of Vehicles. The Wichita Eagle reports that Democrats want to fix the problem when legislators meet starting September 3. The special session was called to rewrite the state's Hard 50 prison law in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Republicans in the Legislature say any discussion on the voting laws is unlikely to happen, given the desire to keep the session focused on the sentencing law.

Kansas Leaders to Have Medicaid Oversight Panel Meet

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — After some hesitation from a top Republican, Kansas legislative leaders have decided that a committee monitoring the state's overhaul of its Medicaid program will have two days of meetings later this year. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Senate President Susan Wagle said this week that she wanted to hear from the leaders of the House and Senate health committees before committing to meetings of the oversight committee. Medicaid covers medical services for the needy and disabled. Governor Sam Brownback turned over administration of most of the program this year to three private health insurance companies. Democrats said during a meeting of legislative leaders that they thought oversight is important. Wagle and House Speaker Ray Merrick then agreed to the meetings. Dates haven't been set.


Ex-Kansas Ag Chief Not Thinking About Governor's Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Agriculture Secretary Joshua Svaty says he's not thinking about running for governor next year. Prominent fellow Democrats have repeatedly mentioned the 33-year-old Svaty as a top potential challenger for Republican Governor Sam Brownback. But Svaty said Wednesday that he's focusing on his new job as a vice president for the Salina-based Land Institute, which promotes sustainable agriculture. He joined the institute about six weeks ago. Svaty said his focus is on his new job, adding, "That's where it's going to be for a while." Svaty is an Ellsworth County native who served more than six years in the Kansas House before serving as agriculture secretary from 2009 through 2011. He is a former senior adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency's regional administrator in Kansas City, Missouri.


Kansas State Senator, Mayor Spar over Gun Rights Website

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas state senator is demanding that Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer take his name off the website of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group. The Wichita Eagle reports that state Senator Michael O'Donnell used a Facebook post to question the city's membership in the coalition. O'Donnell's posting urges people to ask city leaders to drop out of what he calls a "gun control group." Brewer says he vaguely remembers the group's formation in 2006, but doesn't remember Wichita signing on. He says while he doesn't want guns in public places, he respects gun rights. The group's mission statement says members are determined to fight crime, and believe more can be done to stop criminals from getting guns, while also protecting the rights of citizens own them.


Topeka Looks to Hike Franchise Fee for State Agencies, Churches

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka appears ready to boost its utility franchise fee so that some new revenue to fund its budget comes from churches, schools and Kansas government agencies. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that most City Council members have endorsed raising the fee to 6 percent from 5 percent. Kansas Gas Service and electricity supplier Westar Energy pay the fee on their gross receipts and pass it along to customers. The council believes the increase will raise nearly $1.2 million next year. Council members backed the idea after a financial adviser told them it would be fairer than boosting property taxes to raise revenues. State agencies, schools, churches and other nonprofit groups don't pay property taxes. The council and mayor plan to vote August 20 on a 2014 budget.

Oilfield Equipment Company to Add 100 Jobs in Iola

IOLA, Kan. (AP) — A Texas company that makes oilfield equipment says it plans to expand and add about 100 jobs in Iola. State commerce officials announced Tuesday that Catalyst Artificial Lift, a Gainesville, Texas company that manufactures oilfield reciprocating rod pumps, bought a 150,000-square foot manufacturing building in Iola. The company says it will expand its current workforce in Allen County from 22 employees to 120 workers during the next five years. Catalyst's bought a building that formerly housed the Haldex facility, which closed in 2011 after its operations were relocated to Mexico, costing 160 people their jobs. Catalyst was offered an incentives package that includes labor to upgrade electrical and plumbing systems, plus $30,000 in direct financial assistance.

Miami County Sheriff Seeking Suspects in Kansas Home Invasion

HILLSDALE, Kan. (AP) — The search continues for two suspects who broke into a northeast Kansas home and tied up the female resident. The search began Tuesday and was concentrated for most of the day northeast of Louisburg in Miami County. Authorities say three men broke into a home in the unincorporated town of Hillsdale Tuesday morning. Police said they tied the woman up, ransacked her home and fled. After a car carrying the suspects was stopped, one of the men was quickly captured but the other two escaped into the woods.


Termites Bugging K-State Entomology Department

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The building that houses insect research at Kansas State University has a big problem with bugs. Officials tell WIBW-TV that swarms of termites have infested Waters Hall, a historic building that's home to the Entomology Department. The university is working carefully to fight the termites while protecting the insects used by the department for study and research. With liquid chemicals ruled out, Kansas State has turned to American Pest Management Inc. in Manhattan to install an environmentally friendly anti-termite system. Company vice president Travis Aggson says the system involves putting termite bait stations in the ground to create a protective ring around the building. Aggson says Waters Halls has had a half-dozen termite swarms in the past two years.


2 Kansas Deputies Accused in Money Theft Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas sheriff's deputies have been arrested on suspicion of stealing taxpayer money. Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter announced the arrests Tuesday without naming the deputies. Easter says the case has been turned over to the district attorney's office. The deputies worked in the transportation division, taking inmates between jails. Easter says the arrests followed a two-week investigation. No other details about the alleged theft of public money were released, and Easter said he would not comment further. Both deputies were booked into the Sedgwick County jail, one on suspicion of giving false information and the other on suspicion of false information and official misconduct.


Last Child Hurt in KC Day Care Crash Heads Home

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The last child still hospitalized after a car came crashing into a Kansas City day care center is being released. Children's Mercy spokeswoman Jessica Salazar says the child was going home Wednesday after staying overnight for observation. Two other children were treated and released. The children were among 40 inside the Christian Academy Child Care east of downtown Tuesday when a sport utility vehicle knocked an unoccupied car into the building. Police said the SUV's driver was "approximately 80" years old. He was taken to a hospital in stable condition. Police spokeswoman Marisa Barnes said Wednesday that there was no new information about the cause of the crash that left a giant hole in the side of the day care facility. A utility pole also was struck.


Kansas-Based EagleMed Announces Safety Training Milestone

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas-based medical transport service that has had three deadly helicopter crashes in Oklahoma since 2010 says it has advanced to a higher level of a voluntary federal safety program. Wichita-based EagleMed LLC announced Tuesday it has entered the second level of the Federal Aviation Administration's Safety Management System. The company says it has been working with the FAA for more than 18 months on the process that is designed as a higher standard for safety in air medical transport services. The company's third deadly crash happened last month when a patient died after a medical helicopter crashed near the Choctaw National Health Care Center in Talihina in southeastern Oklahoma. Two other double-fatality EagleMed helicopter crashes happened in Oklahoma City in February and near Kingfisher in 2010.

Trial Delayed in Kansas Trucking Scheme Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has delayed the trial of three California residents accused of trying to steal nearly $83,000 worth of beef from a southwest Kansas slaughterhouse. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot on Tuesday set the case for a jury trial beginning November 12 in Wichita. Trial had previously been set for August. An indictment charges 53-year-old Oganes Nagapetian; his 46-year-old wife, Larisa; and his 50-year-old brother, Tigran Nagapetian, with conspiracy to violate U.S. laws. All are from North Hollywood, California. Prosecutors allege the three tried to steal a semi-load of processed beef in November 2011 from the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Holcomb by pretending to be legitimate freight haulers. The government says meatpacking plants in Dodge City, Liberal, Holcomb and Garden City have been targeted in similar trucking schemes.


Small Tornado Confirmed in SE Kansas

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) — A team from the National Weather Service has confirmed the touchdown of a small tornado in southeast Kansas this week. KOAM-TV reports that the twister dropped Monday evening in Bourbon County, near Bourbon State Lake. No injuries were reported. The Weather Service rated the tornado an EF-1, about 100 yards wide with maximum winds of about 90 mph. It was on the ground for roughly a minute. The tornado moved a mobile home about four feet off its foundation, destroyed a small shed and blew a boat into a tree.


Celeb Hunter Gets 30 Days for Probation Violation

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A celebrity hunter from Tennessee who unlawfully killed a deer in Kansas has been banned from hunting anywhere in the United States or the world for the next year. The U.S. attorney's office also announced Wednesday that 50-year-old William "Spook" Spann must spend a total of 30 nights and weekends in federal custody by the end of February. U.S. Magistrate Judge James O'Hara imposed the sentence Tuesday after finding that Spann violated the terms of a plea agreement that banned him from hunting for six months. Last year, Spann pleaded guilty to transporting across state lines the antlers of a deer he killed on land adjoining his central Kansas property. He was only permitted to hunt on his property. Spann has a hunting show, "Spook Nation," on the Pursuit Channel.


1983 Killings of Leavenworth Couple Unsolved

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A retired Leavenworth County detective says he still holds out hope that the 1983 murders of a couple will be solved. Edward and Hazel Burton were found shot to death on their property in the Kickapoo Township area in northern Leavenworth County. Edward Burton's body was found on a road and his wife's body was found inside a bus the couple stayed in on their property during the summers. Detective Hank Spellman says several potential suspects were questioned but detectives could not get anyone to confess. He says he's convinced someone who knows what happened is still alive. The Leavenworth Times reports that Spellman says he is haunted by the case and the fact that it wasn't solved.


Vandalism Incidents Reported at KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas police are investigating several acts of vandalism at campus buildings this month. The vandalism began July 12 when someone caused $5,000 damage in a bathroom at Wescoe Hall and benches on the building's ground floor. Damage was later reported at Blake Hall, Fraser Hall, Malott Hall and Stauffer-Flint Hall. The total damage was estimated at $9,000. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that all the buildings were unlocked because people were working inside. It's not clear if all the vandalism incidents are related.

KU Autism Researchers Get $1.2M Grant

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas researchers have received a $1.2 million grant to test whether an iPad voice output application can help children with autism. The researchers will train preschoolers with autism and their classmates to use the app. The researchers want to determine whether the technology can improve their deficits in communication, social reciprocity and play skills. The four-year study will be led by Kathy Thiemann-Bourque, a University of Kansas assistant research professor at the Juniper Gardens Children's Project in Kansas City, Kansas. She says many young children with autism have complex communication needs but do not develop functional speech. She has examined both peer training and direct teaching strategies to increase social communication between children with autism and their classmates without disabilities.


Longtime Lawrence Media Executive Retires

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A veteran Lawrence media executive with 43 years of experience is retiring from The World Company. Ralph Gage started with the company in 1969 and retired Tuesday from his day-to-day role as director of special projects. The 71-year-old Gage is the company's former chief operating officer. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, which is owned by The World Company, Gage began his career in Lawrence in October 1969 after working at the Metro-East Journal in East St. Louis, Illinois. He covered the University of Kansas and was part of the team that covered the 1970 burning of the Kansas Union and campus unrest. Dolph Simons III, president of The World Company's newspaper division, says Gage will be missed for his dedication to his work and counsel provided to others.


Hutchinson Man Sentenced in Wichita Shooting Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson man was sentenced to 10 years and three months in prison for the shooting death of a Wichita woman. Forty-seven-year-old Ronald Harner was sentenced Wednesday for second-degree murder in the death of Jolie Crosby in Wichita. Prosecutors said Harner either intentionally shot Crosby or recklessly handled a revolver while the two were drinking at her home. Harner told police the gun went off accidentally while he was unloading it.


KCMO Man Pleads Guilty in Drug Trafficking Scheme

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has pleaded guilty to taking part in a drug-trafficking conspiracy that prosecutors say brought in more than $1 million over the past year. The U.S. Attorney's office says 36-year-old Corbin Bosiljevac pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to distribute more than 5 kilos of cocaine and illegally possessing a firearm. Investigators said Bosiljevac admitted selling about $20,000 worth of drugs each week, with separate suppliers of cocaine and various prescription drugs. He was arrested after police found drugs in the vehicle of a customer leaving his home. Officers searched the home and reported finding marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy, and hundreds of pills of various prescription drugs. Sentencing will be scheduled later.


Program Uses Texts to Deliver Tips to New Parents

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A new program aims to deliver tips to new parents over their cell phones. The Kansas Early Childhood Advisory Council and Kansas Project LAUNCH have awarded $40,000 in mini-grants to communities across the state. The money will help promote a texting campaign designed to provide parents with easy access to health information. Project coordinator Cristi Cain told 6News Lawrence that the program's key demographic is low-income mothers, who are active texters and are more likely to be reached that way. Expecting mothers or new moms can sign up for the free service by texting "baby" to 511411 or "bebe" in Spanish. The messages will offer information aimed at the baby's development up to the child's first birthday. Fifty-four Kansas counties are receiving funding to promote the effort.

University of Wyoming Women's Basketball Player Faces Charges in House Party

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — University of Wyoming sophomore forward Whitney Gordon faces charges stemming from a house party in her hometown of Marion, Kansas. Prosecuting attorney Brian Bina says the charges against Gordon mainly involve providing alcohol to minors but include one count of interference with law enforcement. Gordon has an initial court appearance set for next week. According to police, they were called to Gordon's home on July 12 and found 27 people, including many minors in possession of alcohol. Police say Gordon's parents were out of town at the time. UW coach Joe Legerski said in a statement that the situation was being closely monitored. The 6-foot-2 Gordon played sparingly as a true freshman last season, appearing in eight games and scoring just 2 points. 


Shooting Death at KC Hospital Ruled Suicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a man found shot to death in a hospital bed at Truman Medical Center committed suicide. Police say a nurse who smelled a burning odor checked on the man Saturday morning. She discovered the 59-year-old man in bed bleeding from the nose. The smell was later determined to be gun powder. Police spokesman Captain Tye Grant says the man suffered from several serious illnesses. A handgun was found under the man's arm. Further details were not released.

End of an Era: 3 Capuchin Priests Leaving Hays

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — An era that began in 1878 is ending in Hays this week. Three Capuchin priests are moving from the St. Joseph friary in Hays to a friary in Victoria. The Capuchin order started the St. Joseph parish in 1878 but the order announced last spring that it would leave the parish this year. Fathers Earl Befort, pastor of three small area Catholic parishes, and retired priests Father Canice Froehlich and Father Felix Petrovsky will join eight other Capuchins at the St. Fidelis Friary, 10 miles from Hays in Victoria. The Hays Daily News reports that for the first time in 135 years, the ministry at St. Joseph Parish will be returned to the Diocese of Salina.



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