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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, October 24, 2012



Brownback Stumps for Romney in Ohio

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has been both a rival of Mitt Romney and a boss of Romney's running mate. Now, Brownback has served as a surrogate for the GOP presidential nominee in a crucial swing state. The Youngstown, Ohio, Vindicator reported that Brownback spent Tuesday on a five-city tour of northeastern Ohio stumping for the Republican ticket of Ryan and Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan. Brownback, elected governor in 2010, is a former U.S. senator. Ryan served on Brownback's U.S. Senate staff in the 1990s. Brownback unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2007, opposing both Romney and the eventual nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain. In the 2012 race, Brownback initially endorsed the presidential bid of Texas Governor Rick Perry.


Pompeo: No Rape Exception in Anti-Abortion View

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Abortion could become a key issue as the candidates for the Kansas 4th Congressional District near Election Day. Republican Representative Mike Pompeo of the Kansas 4th District says he believes abortions should be allowed only when necessary to save the life of the mother, and would not support any other exception even in cases of rape. His Democratic challenger, retired court services officer Robert Tillman, backs abortion rights. The heart of the 4th District is Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, and for years ground zero in the nation's abortion debate. It was the home of the late Dr. George Tiller, who was shot to death in May 2009 by an anti-abortion zealot. The last Democrat to hold the seat was Dan Glickman, who was elected in 1976 but lost to Republican Todd Tiahrt in 1994.


Ethics Complaint Against Kansas Lawmaker Dismissed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint against a conservative Democratic House member. The commission concluded Wednesday that Rep. Jan Pauls of Hutchinson didn't intend to violate the law when she failed to list a rental property she owns on annual financial disclosure forms. Pauls filed a new form with the secretary of state's office in July after questions were raised. She said she and her husband lost money on the duplex they rented out. The complaint against Pauls was filed by the chairman of a Kansas Democratic Party caucus that advocates for gays and lesbians. Gay rights supporters have targeted Pauls because of her strong backing of legislation that critics say would nullify local anti-discrimination ordinances helping gays and lesbians.


Leawood Lawyer Named to 10th Judicial District

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Leawood lawyer has been appointed to the 10th Judicial District of Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback's office said Wednesday in a release that Brownback has named Leawood attorney Michael Joyce to the state's 10th Judicial District, which covers Johnson County. Joyce takes the seat of retiring Judge Lawrence Sheppard. Joyce was one of three candidates submitted to Brownback by the district's nominating commission.


Topeka Council Votes to Keep Elephants at Zoo

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The two elephants living at the Topeka Zoo aren't going anywhere. The Topeka City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to support the zoo's decision to keep the elephants, 52-year-old Sunda and 42-year-old Tembo. The zoo and council had been pressured for weeks by critics who said the elephants weren't getting proper care and should be transferred to a sanctuary in Tennessee. The council's vote required the zoo to improve its elephant program. Zoo director Brendan Wiley says changes are planned, and zoo patrons will see improvements as early as February. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Wiley says the focus of the program will change from viewing the elephants as an exhibit to considering their living space as a 24-hour habitat.


Overland Park Considering Restriction of Open Carry Ordinance

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Overland Park city officials are considering adding some restrictions to a new ordinance that allows residents to openly carry weapons. The city council voted last month to allow gun owners to carry firearms in public places if they are kept in holsters with the safety engaged. Guns are not allowed in city-owned buildings. Since then, councilman Jim Hix says council members have been inundated with complaints from Overland Park residents. The Kansas City Star reports the council will consider next month requiring those openly carrying weapons to have the same permits currently required to carry concealed weapons. Earl McIntosh, with the Libertarian Party, says he believes a legal challenge would be filed if Overland Park tries to change its open carry law.


Former Thayer City Clerk Sentenced for Theft

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former southeastern Kansas city clerk whose thefts have left the community near bankruptcy will spend a year and a day in federal prison for her crimes. Fifty-year-old Laura Whittley sobbed Wednesday as U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten rejected a passionate defense request for probation. He also ordered her to repay $120,000 in restitution. Whittley pleaded guilty in May to bank fraud and money laundering. She apologized in court and said she will do her best to repay the stolen money. Thayer is a Neosho County community of 500 people with just 183 households and a median family income of about $35,000. Mayor Anthony Vining says the city was forced to raise its mill levy and its water rates and soon its local sales tax because of the thefts.

Abilene Students Protest Federal Food Law

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — Students at a northeast Kansas high school are waging a protest against a new federal law regulating what they eat for lunch. Some Abilene High School students are boycotting the cafeteria to protest the law, which requires them to eat more fruits and vegetables. The students also say they aren't getting enough to eat. The Salina Journal reports students are being encouraged to bring their own lunch to school or to use the school snack bar this week. Nancy Curtis, food service supervisor at the school, said the cafeteria served about 175 students Monday, down from an average of about 380. She says the cafeteria isn't losing money because workers are able to freeze most of the leftover food and there's more revenue from the snack bar.


Mistrial Declared After Kansas Jury Sees Wrong DVD

OSKALOOSA, Kan. (AP) — A judge in northeastern Kansas has declared a mistrial in an attempted murder case because jurors saw improper evidence. Jefferson County District Judge Gary Nafziger ordered the mistrial Wednesday in the attempted murder trial of 62-year-old John Hayworth Jr. of Valley Falls. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Hayworth is charged in the December shooting of 58-year-old William Schoonover, also of Valley Falls. The trial, which opened Monday, was declared a mistrial after jurors watched a DVD containing footage that should have been redacted. Jefferson County Attorney Jason Belveal says a redacted copy had been made, but the jury was inadvertently shown the incorrect version. The judge set a January 24 court date to reschedule the trial.


Trial Reset for Man Charged with Hurting Kids

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — A new trial date has been set for a western Kansas man who's charged with trying to kill his three children. Thirty-one year-old Irineo Garcia of Liberal has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted first-degree murder. He's scheduled to stand trial February 11 in Seward County District Court. The Hutchinson News reports that a psychological evaluation delayed Garcia's trial, which initially was scheduled for last February. He's accused of trying to kill his three children, then ages 5, 6 and 7, in 2010. Prosecutors say he also tried to kill himself. The children and Garcia were found injured at their home after his estranged wife notified police. Officers found him bleeding outside the home and the children inside. They have all recovered from their injuries.


Jury Selection Begins in Hutchinson Murder Trial

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Jury selection has begun in the trial of a 33-year-old man charged with killing a Hutchinson woman. Billy Joe Craig and Charles Christopher Logsdon are charged with first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Jennifer Heckel. Investigators have said they believe the men planned to rob someone else and went to the wrong house and killed Heckel. Her 5-year-old son was home at the time, and he alerted neighbors, who called police. The Hutchinson News reports that Logsdon's trial began Tuesday with jury selection, which was expected to last two days. Logsdon's lawyer, Jim Pratt of Wichita, told prospective jurors his client was innocent and only learned about the case through others. Prosecutors say the case could last at least a month. Craig will be tried separately.


Overland Park Woman Killed in Hit-and-Run

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A 35-year-old woman died when she was struck by a car as she walked on a street in Overland Park. Police identified the victim as Tiana J. Beall. She was struck by the car about 11 pm Tuesday. No other details about the accident were immediately released. The vehicle involved in the death was located Wednesday. Overland Park police said no arrests have been made and the investigation continues.

Goodland Man Dies After Being Hit by Car

GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a northwest Kansas man died after being hit by a car. The patrol says 46-year-old Jeffrey Badgett of Goodland died late Tuesday when he walked into a road in Goodland and was hit by a Jeep Cherokee. Badgett died at the scene. The driver of the Cherokee was not hurt. An investigation into the accident is continuing.

Meeting Set for NW Kansas Water Withdrawal Limits

HOXIE, Kan. (AP) — A public hearing takes place next month on a proposal to limit water withdrawals in part of northwestern Kansas. The Hays Daily News reports the Division of Water Resources is moving ahead with a local enhanced management plan. The plan seeks to limit irrigation in a 99-square-mile area of Sheridan and Thomas counties that's considered a high-priority water use area because of declining water levels in the Ogallala aquifer. The plan calls for a five-year program limiting irrigation to 11 acre-inches of water per year. Water use for livestock would be limited to 12 gallons of water per animal each day. That's about a 20 percent reduction from current use. Organizers are expected to offer more details about the proposal at the hearing November 28 in Hoxie.


Corps of Engineers to Waive Some Park Fees on Veterans Day

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will waive day-use fees for veterans, active and reserve component service members and their families at more than 2,400 Corps-operated recreation areas nationwide on Veterans Day, November 11. The waiver will include areas managed by the Corps' Tulsa District. The Tulsa District operates 38 projects in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. The day-use fee waiver requires only verbal confirmation of service. It covers fees for boat launch ramps and swimming beaches but does not apply to camping and related services or fees for specialized facilities like group picnic shelters.  The Corps does not charge an entrance fee to its parks. Other agencies that manage recreation areas on Corps land are encouraged to offer the Veterans Day waiver of fees in those areas as well.


Proposed Nebraska Pipeline will Increase Republican & Platte River Flows

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Four natural resource districts are joining forces for a project to increase water flows to the Republican and Platte Rivers, both crucial to Nebraska farmers and subject to water-usage agreements with Kansas and other states. District officials have agreed to buy a farm south of North Platte and retire approximately 15,800 acres from production. Doing so will allow them to save water that would otherwise be used for irrigation, and ship it down to the rivers when it's needed to make sure Nebraska stays in compliance with interstate water agreements. The districts are expected to split the $83 million cost to buy the property and make upgrades to help ship the water. Officials estimate that they'll need 17 miles of pipeline to transport water to both rivers.


Health Care Firm Moving 300 Workers to KS

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A managed health care company is moving 300 workers from offices in Kansas City, Mo., a few miles across the state line to Overland Park, Kansas. KSHB-TV reports Coventry Health Care of Kansas Inc. plans to make the move next April. Coventry's Kansas City offices are located in the southern part of the city, about a block from the Kansas border. Coventry Health Care of Kansas provides health benefit products and services to individuals in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. It's a subsidiary of Maryland-based Coventry Health Care Inc., and also has offices in Wichita.


Hutchinson Police Investigate Widespread Vandalism

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Police say they are investigating a widespread outbreak of vandalism overnight in Hutchinson. So far, 17 cases have been reported but police expect there will be more. Police say someone shot out windows with a BB gun at businesses, homes and some vehicles. The Hutchinson News reports that police suspect the vandals traveled around town, shooting BB guns. No suspects have been identified. Police Lieutenant Thad Pickard said such damage usually occurs in one section of town but last night's vandalism was spread throughout the town.


Postal Service Rejects Pleas from Gove, Healy

GOVE, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service says it will stick with plans to cut hours of service in Gove and Healy. Residents of the western Kansas towns had urged the postal service not to reduce the hours, saying the postal service is vital to the two small towns. The postal service's regional office in Omaha, Nebraska announced Monday that hours at the two post offices would be reduced. The date for the change was pushed back to January 12 to allow for Christmas season mailing. The Hays Daily News reports postal officials declined to say how much money would be saved by reducing service at the two post offices. The reduction in hours is part of a larger proposal to reduce hours at more than 360 post offices in Kansas.


KSU to Develop Solar-Powered Charging Stations

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University has received a $200,000 grant to help develop solar-powered charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles. The money comes from a foundation for Overland Park-based engineering and construction firm Black & Veatch. The university says in a news release that solar panels will power charging stations for plug-in vehicles. Project leader and chemical engineering professor Larry Erickson says solar-powered charging stations and plug-in vehicles have the potential to significantly change greenhouse gas emissions. He also said it's less expensive to operate vehicles with electrical energy and that advantage is expected to grow. He and others overseeing the project are exploring a time line, design and site for the project. The station would be used for research, development, education and charging vehicles.


Dole Institute Honoring McGovern Legacy

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas is presenting a special exhibit honoring the late Democratic Senator George McGovern of South Dakota. McGovern, who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972, died Sunday at the age of 90. Dole, the former Republican senator from Kansas, worked with McGovern to create an international food for education and child nutrition program, for which they shared the 2008 World Food Prize. He issued a statement Sunday praising McGovern as a "humble, compassionate and caring man." The Dole Institute exhibit traces McGovern's life growing up during the Great Depression, his service as a pilot during World War II and his political career. It's free to the public and will be on display through November 15.


Kansas Man Sentenced to Life in Jessica's Law Case

OSWEGO, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of a child sex crime that occurred in 2010. Twenty-four-year-old Nicholas Coree Joplin of Parsons was sentenced Tuesday by Labette County District Judge Robert J. Fleming. The Wichita Eagle reports that the case was prosecuted by the Kansas Attorney General's office under Jessica's Law. The statute mandates a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years for adults convicted of certain sex crimes against children younger than 14. A jury convicted Joplin in April on a single count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.


Three More Charged in Topeka Woman's Death

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three more people are now charged in connection with last week's killing of a Topeka woman. Ashley Alcala, a 34-year-old mother of two, died after being found severely injured in her home last Thursday. Her husband, Manuel Campos Alcala, is being held on $1 million bond on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports two 19-year-old men and a 58-year-old woman from Texas have now been charged with felony first-degree murder and conspiracy in the death. They're being held in El Paso County, Texas, on other charges. The charge of felony first-degree murder applies to murders committed during some other, dangerous felony. Authorities have not disclosed the alleged underlying felony against the three new suspects.


KU's Self Open to Some Financial Allowance for Student Athletes

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self says he's no longer completely opposed to providing student athletes with some financial allowance beyond the usual parameters of a scholarship. Self told The Kansas City Star that while he used to be totally against compensating student-athletes beyond room, board, books, tuition and fees, his opinion has changed. He says he began noticing a disconnect during the NCAA Tournaments when revenue for television and the NCAA piled up, but players' parents had to spend a lot of money following their kids to different tournament sites. The NCAA passed legislation last year to provide scholarship athletes an additional $2,000 each year, but that legislation later was put on hold when schools expressed concern about the cost.


Royals Promote Maloof from Minors to Major League as Hitting Coach

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals have promoted minor league hitting coordinator Jack Maloof to major league hitting coach and Andre David to assistant hitting coach. The two of them replace Kevin Seitzer, whose contract was not renewed. Maloof was the hitting coach for the Florida Marlins from 1999-2001. He has also worked with San Diego and Atlanta before joining the Royals in 2008 as minor league hitting coordinator. He played a big part in the growth of young prospects such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. David will be in his 15th season with the organization. He was the Royals' hitting coach for parts of the 2005 and '06 seasons, and has spent the past three years working with prospects.


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