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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Huelskamp Removed from House Budget Committee by GOP Leaders

WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Speaker John Boehner's decision to take plum committee assignments away from four Republican lawmakers after they bucked party leaders on key votes isn't going over well with conservative advocacy groups. Representatives Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Justin Amash of Michigan will lose their seats on the House Budget Committee chaired by Representative Paul Ryan next year. And Representatives Walter Jones of North Carolina and David Schweikert of Arizona are losing their seats on the House Financial Services Committee. Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said Tuesday that the party's steering committee made the decision "based on a range of factors.'' All four had voted against the agreement in the summer of 2011 to raise the government's debt ceiling, and three of them opposed the budget blueprint Ryan wrote.


Democrats to Target Kobach with Limiting Measures

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic leaders say they will introduce two measures in January in an effort to limit Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's power and work outside the office on immigration and other issues. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley says Tuesday that he would submit a bill to limit the ability of statewide elected officials and their employees to work more than 10 hours a week outside their official duties and still receive compensation. Hensley says Kobach should be concentrating on the secretary of state's office and not working with other states on immigration issues. A second bill would require county commissions in the state's four largest counties to hire election commissioners, to address problems arising from the general election. That measure is aimed at preventing Kobach from appointing those commissioners.


Dole Returns to Senate to Push for Treaty

WASHINGTON (AP) — Frail and in a wheelchair, former Senator Bob Dole was a startling presence on the U.S. Senate floor as lawmakers voted on a treaty on disabilities. The 89-year-old Republican was in the well of the Senate on the GOP side of the chamber, his wife Elizabeth nearby. Dole recently had been hospitalized but came to the Senate to push for the treaty. Senator John Kerry acknowledged Dole's presence said the former Kansas lawmaker and World War II veteran was in the Senate to advocate for the treaty and ensure that disabled American veterans are treated with dignity and respect.


Court Says Kansas School Case Ruling Still to Come

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The presiding judge in a Kansas school finance lawsuit has told attorneys in the case not to expect a ruling until around the first of the year. Shawnee County District Court Judge Franklin Theis has sent a letter to attorneys representing school districts and a Wichita attorney defending the state to update them on his timetable for a decision. The judge says it was initially thought a decision could come by December 1, but the amount of material to review and the time it is taking to write a ruling has pushed the deadline back. The school districts are asking the judges to rule that the state is failing to fulfill its constitutional duty to adequately fund public school districts.


University of Kansas and Children's Mercy Hospital Formalize Affiliation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The University of Kansas medical center and hospital are officially teaming up with Children's Mercy Hospital to help meet growing demands in child health care. The hospital, located  in Kansas City, Missouri, and the university have been working together for years, but they announced an official alliance Monday for an integrated pediatric program. The Kansas City Star reports that the program will include Children's Mercy Hospital, the University of Kansas Medical Center, the University of Kansas Hospital and the University of Kansas Physicians. Leaders of the project say consultants will help them improve the network of services in the region and navigate both Missouri's and Kansas's Medicaid reimbursements and malpractice insurance issues. They hope to have the program running by the end of next year.


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.


Ex-Riley County Corrections Officer Charged

ALMA, Kan. (AP) — A former Riley County corrections officer is facing several charges after being arrested by Wabaunsee County officials. Riley County authorities announced Tuesday that 30-year-old Russ McCormick was arrested on charges of trafficking in contraband in a correctional facility, unlawful sexual relations and promoting obscenity. He was released on $2,500 bond. However, county officials say they can't release more details about what led to the arrest on Friday. KMAN reports that McCormick had been a corrections officer for two years. He was not working as a corrections officer when he was arrested. It was not immediately clear if McCormick had an attorney.


Feds Stage Crackdown on Illegal Immigrant Hiring in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal crackdown on Kansas companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants has ensnared a Wichita firm for employing undocumented workers at its McDonald's restaurants. McCalla Corporation pleaded guilty Monday to knowingly accepting a fraudulent identification document as proof of a worker's employment eligibility. As part of a plea deal, the firm was immediately sentenced to pay $400,000 in fines and forfeitures. McCalla operates six McDonald's restaurants in Wichita. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Tuesday that the single conviction represented the company's hiring and employment practices. Investigators found that five of the six managers at its McDonald's restaurants as well as many other employees were unlawfully in the United States. Grissom says similar investigations of other Kansas companies are now under way.


K-State's Snyder Voted AP Big 12 Coach of the Year

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has been voted the AP Big 12 coach of the year after leading the Wildcats to the third conference championship in school history and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. The Wildcats' only loss came at Baylor late in the season, when they had climbed to number 1 in the BCS standings. They rebounded to beat Texas last Saturday to wrap up their first Big 12 title since 2003, when Snyder was still in his first tenure at Kansas State. Snyder also won the award last season, when he led the Wildcats to the Cotton Bowl, and in 1998, when Kansas State came up just short of playing for a national championship. The only other three-time winner of the award is Oklahoma's Bob Stoops.


Stadium Press Box, Suites to Be Imploded for KSU Expansion

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The press box at Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be destroyed next week as part of a stadium expansion project. The implosion of the Dev Nelson Press Box is scheduled for December 15. The structure on the west side of the stadium features 22 luxury suites and a media center. It opened in 1993. The implosion is part of a $75 million project called the West Stadium Center. The new structure will include a new press box, a ticket office, a Hall of Honor, 40 private suites, 36 club boxes and 800 club-level seats. Construction on the north and south portions has been ongoing through the fall. The destruction of the press box will pave the way for the rest of the center to be erected.


Jackson County Animal Shelter Sets Opening Date

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — After months of dispute over its management, the new Jackson County, Missouri animal shelter is scheduled to open January 1. The county announced Monday that a Kansas-based nonprofit group, Great Plains SPCA, will operate the $5.3 million facility. The city of Independence was supposed to operate the shelter. But in July, one month before the shelter was to open, Jackson County legislator Dennis Waits raised doubts about whether the city had budgeted enough money to operate the facility as a no-kill shelter. Waits suggested the county contract with a nonprofit that had run no-kill shelters, The Kansas City Star reported. But because the county and city of Independence had a legal contract that remained in force through 2040, the shelter sat empty as the two sides negotiated.


Chiefs' LB Mentioned Other 'Girlfriend' to Police

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher spent some of his final hours sleeping in his car outside the home of another woman whom he described as his "girlfriend." Police spokesman Darin Snapp said Tuesday that the woman's apartment complex was about 10 miles from the home where Belcher shot and killed the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins. Belcher then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself in front of team officials. Snapp says the officers, who found Belcher sleeping in his car around 2:50 am Saturday, determined that he didn't have any outstanding warrants. He says Belcher made a phone call and that a woman let him into the building a few minutes later.


Kansas Offering Grants to Reduce Schools' Waste

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is accepting applications for small grants to help schools reduce solid waste and increase their recycling. The department is taking applications online until February 15. KDHE will award grants ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 for projects that seek to reduce waste through education, composting and recycling. But the projects must be integrated into classroom instruction. KDHE Bureau of Waste Management Director William Bider says one goal is to teach students and school workers habits that can be applied in their homes or other places.


  Westar Plant to Be Closed for 2 Months After Fire

COLWICH, Kan. (AP) — Westar Energy officials say one of the utility's plants near Colwich will be closed for at least two months for repairs from a fire. Westar officials say customers should not notice any effects from the closure. A transformer at the plant failed last Wednesday, causing an explosion and fire. Westar officials estimate it will cost between $5 million and $8 million to repair the plant. KAKE-TV reports that the plant has a spare transformer that will be used until repairs are complete. Westar uses the plant mostly during peak summer months. No one was injured in the fire. Workers are still trying to determine what caused the transformer to fail.


Fire Damages SW Kansas Tank Manufacturing Plant

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Two employees of a Garden City manufacturing plant that makes fiberglass tanks suffered smoke inhalation after a fire consumed much of the building. The Garden City Telegram reports that firefighters were called to Palmer Manufacturing just after 10 am Monday. Fire Chief Allen Shelton says about 50 percent of the plant was on fire when crews arrived. He says the two unnamed employees were reported in good condition after being taken to a local hospital. Shelton says winds of 31 to 41 mph made the blaze difficult to contain. Investigators had not yet determined what caused the fire as of Monday afternoon. More than two dozen firefighters from Garden City and Holcomb responded to the scene. No damage report was immediately available.


ASPCA to Train Missouri Police to Investigate Dogfights

GRANDVIEW, Mo. (AP) — An animal welfare group is combining efforts with a Kansas City suburb to help law enforcement investigate animal fighting. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says in a release that it's hosting a training workshop with the city of Grandview to teach law enforcement officers and animal cruelty investigators how to crack down on animal blood sports like dog fighting and cockfighting. The workshop is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday The ASPCA says the workshop will be led by Terry Mills and Kyle Held, APSCA employees who were involved in a recent large U.S. dog fighting raid that resulted in 26 arrests and the seizure of more than 400 dogs.


'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.


Med Tech in "Serial Infector" Hepatitis C Case Pleads Not Guilty

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A traveling hospital worker accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with hepatitis C through contaminated syringes has pleaded not guilty to the charges in New Hampshire federal court. David Kwiatkowski, whom prosecutors describe as a "serial infector," was indicted last week on multiple charges of tampering with a consumer product and illegally obtaining drugs. He had worked in 18 different hospitals in seven states, including Kansas. Kwiatkowski only said "yes" when asked in court Monday if he understood his rights. Trial was set for the first week of February. Until May, Kwiatkowski worked as a cardiac technologist at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire, where 32 patients were diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries. Patients in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania have since been tested for hepatitis C.


Immigrant Sentenced in Marriage Fraud Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Jamaican woman has been sentenced to two years of probation and could be deported for entering into a sham marriage with a Fort Riley soldier to get legal immigration status. U.S. District Judge Monti Belot also ordered 28-year-old Shannakay Hunter to reimburse the U.S. Army $2,600 for medical services she wasn't entitled to receive. Hunter was convicted in August of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, marriage fraud and lying to the government. She had faced up to five years in prison on each count. The man she married, former Army Private Joshua Priest, was sentenced in the case to 10 months for conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and wire fraud. He testified against his wife at her trial. Hunter now lives in New York City.


Trial of KC Lawyer Charged in Dad's Death Delayed

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The murder trial of a Kansas City lawyer charged with killing her millionaire father by forging health care documents won't take place until 2013. Susan Elizabeth Van Note was scheduled to go on trial in Boone County next week on forgery and first-degree murder charges. The Lake Sun Leader of Camdenton reports that during a hearing Monday, the trial was delayed until next November. Van Note is free on bond and has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors say the 44-year-old woman showed University Hospital doctors a forged document that led to removing her 67-year-old father, William Van Note, from life support in 2010. Van Note and his long-time girlfriend were attacked at their Lake of the Ozarks home. No one has been charged in the second killing.


Chiefs Had Given Counseling to Belcher, Girlfriend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say the Kansas City Chiefs had been providing counseling to linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend before he killed her and committed suicide over the weekend. Police Sergeant Richard Sharp told The Kansas City Star that the couple had been arguing over relationship and financial issues for months and that the team had been "bending over backward" trying to help them. Belcher fatally shot 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins at their Kansas City home Saturday before shooting himself in the head in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot in front of team officials who were trying to stop him, including general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel. Sharp says Belcher reportedly thanked the men for their help but said "it was too late" before he killed himself.


Pursuit in South Dakota Ends with Kansas Man in Custody

ALPENA, S.D. (AP) — A pursuit involving personnel from five different counties and the South Dakota Highway Patrol ended with a Kansas man in custody after the vehicle he was driving crashed in a field west of Alpena (South Dakota). Jerauld County Sheriff Jason Weber initiated the pursuit about 9:30 am Monday after receiving a report that a person driving a North Dakota-plated pickup had taken diesel fuel from a farm yard. The pursuit ended eight miles west of Alpena in a field when the driver of the pickup crashed the car into a creek. The driver, a 47-year-old man from Lansing, Kansas, was taken into custody. Authorities say the man has felony warrants from Kansas. The Jerauld County Sheriff's Office is continuing the investigation.


K-State's Collin Klein Named as One of Three Heisman Trophy Finalists

NEW YORK (AP) —  Kansas State University quarterback Collin Klein, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o have been named as the finalists for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.  The award is widely considered college football's most famous award given to an individual player. Klein would be the first player from K-State to win the Heisman. Manziel, however, is currently viewed as the favorite to win. He would be the first freshman to win the honor, and the first Texas A&M player since halfback John David Crow won the school's only Heisman in 1957. Te'o is trying to become the first defense-only player to win a Heisman, and the eighth player from Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have had seven Heisman winners...tying the record for the most received by players from any one school...but none since Tim Brown in 1987. The finalists were announced on Monday. The award will be presented Saturday night in New York City. 


Kansas Native Hit, Killed by Truck on North Carolina Interstate 

EAST FLAT ROCK, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Highway Patrol says a man has died after being hit by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 26. The patrol said 22-year-old David Winter died at the scene Monday. Authorities say Winter was from Hillsboro, Kansas, but was living in Mill Spring, North Carolina. State troopers say Winter had parked his car on the shoulder of the westbound lanes near mile marker 58 near the Polk-Henderson county line and was in the right lane when he was hit. A second vehicle then hit the man. The patrol said the trucker won't be charged. Investigators aren't sure why Winter parked his car or why he was in the roadway. The patrol said his car's engine was still warm, the doors were locked and the keys were not in the vehicle.