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Regional Headlines for Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Number of Kansas Government Workers Grew in Last Fiscal Year

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The number of people working for Kansas state government increased last year but most of the growth was in temporary jobs with no benefits. The Kansas Department of Administration says the state employed 69,974 people in fiscal year 2013. That includes both regular and temporary employees. That's an increase of 143 from the previous fiscal year. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the state cut 937 regular positions but added 1,080 temporary positions last fiscal year. Of the temporary jobs, 103 included benefits and 977 didn't. The report shows the state shifted toward unclassified employees, who are not protected by the civil service system from being fired or demoted. The state had 989 fewer classified employees in fiscal 2013, and 1,132 more unclassified employees. That includes temporary and full-time employees.


Kansas Ag Officials Tout New Farmers' Market Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas agriculture officials say a new law taking effect in July will help a growing number of farmers' markets across the state. The measure approved by legislators and signed by Governor Sam Brownback earlier this month sets up a central registry for farmers' markets in the state Department of Agriculture. Registering with the state will limit the legal liability of farmers' markets if accidents occur. Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman said Wednesday that registering also will give farmers' markets access to promotional help from the state. The department said that from 1987 to 2012, the number of farmers' markets in Kansas increased more than four times, from 26 to 118. Rodman said farmers' markets give consumers fresh food and connect them with the farmers growing it.


UPDATE: Kansas Doctor Remains Jailed Pending Another Hearing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas doctor linked to drug overdoses by active-duty Fort Riley soldiers remains jailed for now as a possible flight risk. Federal prosecutors told a magistrate judge Wednesday that Michael P. Schuster, of Manhattan, has more than $1 million outside the U.S., a home in Paraguay and two passports. A hearing to determine whether he should remain in custody pending trial has been set for Tuesday in Topeka. Schuster is charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute drugs. His first hearing left unanswered whether any soldiers or family members died from overdoses, as indicated in an affidavit. Defense attorney Barry Clark declined comment, saying he has not yet seen the government's evidence. A federal grand jury is expected to consider the case next week for indictment.

Captioner Sorry for Misidentifying Bomb Suspect

NEW YORK (AP) — A TV captioning service has apologized for misidentifying "New Girl" star Zooey Deschanel as one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects on a Texas news broadcast. Lawrence-based Caption Solutions says it and its captioner "deeply regret" the mistake. Company president Kala J. Patterson says in a statement issued Tuesday they "sincerely apologize for this error." The erroneous onscreen text appeared during coverage by the Fox network affiliate KDFW in Dallas-Fort Worth of Friday's manhunt for a bombing suspect. It declared: "Marathon Bomber. He is 19-year-old Zooey Deschanel." The suspect was 19-year-old college student Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who later was arrested and hospitalized. Deschanel learned of the TV captioning blunder over the weekend and tweeted: "Whoa! Epic closed captioning FAIL!"

ACLU Demands Records on SW Kansas School Assemblies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is demanding more information from a southwest Kansas school district about assemblies this week that featured a speaker from a creationist group. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri is requesting that the Hugoton district release emails between its staff and employees of the Oklahoma-based Creation Truth Foundation. The ACLU also wants copies of materials used at the assemblies and other documents. Hugoton Superintendent Mark Crawford said Tuesday that his district would fulfill the ACLU's request. But he said the group tried to intimidate the district into canceling the assemblies. The ACLU criticized the assemblies as an opportunity to promote creationism. Crawford said creationism wasn't mentioned even though speaker Matt Miles is a foundation instructor.


Families Beg Kansas to Keep Double Killer Imprisoned

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Relatives of two women killed by the same man, 12 years apart, are asking Kansas parole officials to keep him behind bars. Danny Williams was convicted in Idaho of second-degree murder in the 1970 beating death of Melba Gray, a mother of six. Idaho officials paroled him after eight years and he moved to Wichita, where he was convicted of stabbing Francis Ellifson to death at her home in April 1982.  KFDI-AM reportsthat about 40 friends and relatives of both victims attended a hearing of the Kansas Prisoner Review Board on Wednesday. Many read emotional statements arguing for the 60-year-old inmate to remain locked up. They said they know Williams has been considered a model prisoner, but it doesn't change their belief that he would kill again if released.


Kansas Prosecutor to Pursue Retrial in Capital Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor says he's planning to retry a capital murder suspect rather than ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the man's convictions for killing two women in Topeka. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned Phillip Cheatham Jr.'s convictions in January, finding that his lawyer did a poor job at his 2005 trial. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor announced Tuesday his conclusion that it would be "ill-advised" to appeal the state court's ruling. Cheatham was sentenced to die for the 2003 shooting deaths of two women at a Topeka duplex. He was also convicted of lesser charges for wounding a third woman.


Man Gets More Than 8 Years for TV Station Attack

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man who attacked several employees at a Topeka television station has been sentenced to eight years and four months in prison. Fifty-year-old Ray Anthony Miles was sentenced Wednesday for four felony battery charges and two misdemeanors after he attacked four employees of WIBW-TV last May. Miles broke into the station and assaulted the employees because they refused to report on a problem he was having with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He stabbed, kicked, bit and punched the employees before they were able to subdue him.


Prostitute's Client Calls for Help

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Police in northeast Kansas are investigating possible charges after a man called for help, saying he feared for his safety after he was unable to pay a prostitute for sex. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the 23-year-old man summoned Riley County police to a mobile home in Manhattan around 2 am Wednesday. The man told officers that he hired a Topeka woman online at an agreed rate of $400 for two hours of sex. When the two hours were up, the man said, he confessed to the woman that he had no money to pay her. Police say the man called for help because he feared some kind of retaliation from the woman or her boss. No arrests have been made while the investigation continues. 

2 Kansas Employers Semifinalists for Defense Support Award

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas employers are in the running for a national award for supporting employees who serve in the National Guard or military reserves. Olathe-based GPS maker Garmin and the Johnson County city of Shawnee are among 138 semifinalists for the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The award recognizes employers who assist military members before, during and after deployments, including job security and family support. Nearly 2,900 employers nationwide were nominated by their employees. The Virginia-based Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve will narrow the field next month to 30 finalists.

Customers Avoid Sprint in 1Q as Suitors Circle

NEW YORK (AP) — The flow of new customers to Sprint stopped in the latest quarter, even as the company weighs the offers of two corporate suitors. Sprint Nextel Corporation says it added a net of just 12,000 customers to its Sprint brand in the quarter, and it would have lost 252,000 if it weren't for Nextel customers moving over now that their network is being shut down. Still, the company narrowed its net loss in the quarter to $643 million, or 21 cents per share, from $863 million, or 29 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue edged up 0.7 percent to $8.79 billion. Sprint has agreed to sell 70 percent of itself to Japan's Softbank Corporation, but last week got a competing offer from Dish Network.


Kansas Airman Charged over Arizona Commuting Claims

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A senior airman in the Kansas Air National Guard is accused of lying about where she lives so she could fraudulently collect nearly $55,000 in travel reimbursements. The U.S. Attorney's office announced Wednesday that 28-year-old Eledria J. Bradley is charged with one count of wire fraud. The indictment alleges that Bradley changed her address to the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Arizona when she was deployed to McConnell Air Force Base. The base is located in Wichita, where she lives. Prosecutors said that by changing her address, Bradley was outside the commuting distance for McConnell. The indictment says she received benefits she wasn't entitled to from 2009 through this month. Bradley did not have an attorney Wednesday, and there was no phone listed in her name in Wichita.

Ex-Cheer Coach Convicted of 10 Sex Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former cheer coach from Wichita has been convicted of sex crimes involving four of his minor students. Twenty-nine-year-old Timothy Wells-Lee was convicted Tuesday of 10 of 11 charges he faced. He'll be sentenced June 14.Wells-Lee was accused of having sexual relationships with girls ranging from 12 to 14 years old while he was coaching them at Wichita cheer academies between 2006 and 2008. He was acquitted of one charge of fondling one of the girls.Wells-Lee denied having any sexual contact with three of the girls. He admitted having a sexual relationship with the fourth girl but testified it didn't begin she was the legal age of 16. He will be sentenced under Jessica's Law, which requires a sentence of life without possibility of parole for 25 years.


Longtime Publisher of Iola Register Dies at 88

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Emerson Lynn Jr., the former publisher of The Iola Register and one of the state's best-known editorial writers, has died. The newspaper says Lynn died Wednesday morning at a hospice in Topeka, where he'd received care after being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. He was 88. Lynn's journalism career spanned more than 60 years. He led the Register from 1965 to 2000, when he sold it to his daughter, Susan. He continued writing editorials until this year. He is a member of the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame and received a lifetime achievement award last year from Kansas State University's institute for rural development. Lynn served on state commissions on highways, economic development and the judiciary. His wife of 59 years, Mickey, died in 2009.


KU Architecture Program Marks 100th Anniversary

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the start of its architecture program. The university says visitors will be able to take tours Friday and Saturday of Marvin Hall, which houses the School of Architecture, Design and Planning. Visitors also will be able to view recent student projects and look in on design studios. An architecture school at the university was the idea of St. Louis architect Montrose McArdle. McArdle had been hired to help design a new administration building, and he suggested it to then-Chancellor Frank Strong. Such programs were uncommon then, but the Kansas Board of Regents authorized one for the university's engineering school in 1912. Students finished their first year of study in spring 1913.


Garden City Community College Approves Project

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Garden City Community College plans to spend $2.2 million to improve its athletic facilities. The college says the project will allow it to re-establish its track program, which was discontinued in 2007. The college's board of trustees on Tuesday authorized the project, which will include an eight-lane collegiate track and football and women's soccer fields. The Garden City Telegram reports the improvements will be made at the site of the current track next to the Tangeman Sports Complex. College president Herbert Swender says the project will be funded by the school's general fund, increased student tuition and fees, and donations. The school hopes to have the project completed by August 16.

Kansas Hosting Webinar on Prairie Chicken Status

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials will hold an online meeting on the possibility of the lesser prairie chicken being granted federal protection. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide by September whether to add the lesser prairie chicken to the nation's list of threatened species. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Park and Tourism and the Kansas State Research and Extension office will host the online information session for anyone interested in the listing process. The department says the online session is scheduled for April 30 at 7 p.m. Speakers from the department, the Farm Services Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide background on the lesser prairie chicken's listing status. They will also explain programs aimed at improving the bird's habitat.

Kansas Innovative School District Law Signed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas law will designate some school districts as innovative and make them exempt from certain state education rules. The law, signed Monday, establishes a pilot program that will allow 10 percent of the state's 286 school districts to be designated as innovative school districts for five years. The law goes into effect July 1. The innovative districts will be exempt from several state education laws but still must conduct annual testing of students and comply with state finance laws. Governor Sam Brownback and chairmen of the House and Senate education committees will approve the first two applicants seeking innovative status. Those applications will go to the State Board of Education to receive final approval within 90 days.


NASCAR Nullifies Kenseth's KS Speedway Win

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Matt Kenseth has been essentially stripped of his weekend win at Kansas Speedway because his race-winning car failed inspection. NASCAR found one of the eight connecting rods in the engine of the number 20 Toyota used Sunday did not meet the minimum weight requirement once it was inspected at its Research & Development Center. As punishment, Kenseth was stripped of 50 driver points in standings, as well as the three bonus points he earned for the win that would have been applied in seeding for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. His pole also was stripped. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff was fined $200,000 and suspended six races. Car owner Joe Gibbs also was suspended six races and will not earn any owner points during his suspension. JGR plans to appeal.

Sauter Penalized for Illegal Fuel Cell at KS Speedway Truck Race

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Johnny Sauter lost the Truck Series points lead Wednesday after NASCAR penalized him for an illegal fuel cell at Kansas Speedway. Sauter was docked 25 points by NASCAR. It knocked him from first place into a second-place tie with Jeb Burton, 13 points behind new leader Matt Crafton. Crafton and Sauter are teammates at ThorSport Racing. The illegal fuel cell was found on the number 98 Toyota during an opening day inspection and was not used in the race. NASCAR also suspended crew chief Joe Shear four races and fined him $10,000. Sauter won the first two races of the season and finished fifth at Kansas. He's finished fifth or better in all four Truck Series races this season.

Quarterback Changes Loom for Big 12 Next Fall

The Big 12 is facing an identity crisis at quarterback. There will be a lot of new faces next fall. Seven of the league's 10 teams had senior quarterbacks. Five of them started every game last season. Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said Tuesday there's a "little bit of unknown" until all the new quarterbacks show what they can do for their teams. But he says there's no lack of talent. The most experienced Big 12 quarterback is Texas junior David Ash, who has started 18 of his 25 games for the Longhorns. Casey Pachall is back at TCU, where he started 17 of 25 games, including the first four last season before leaving school for substance abuse rehabilitation.

Chiefs Could Make Rare Choice of OT with Number 1 Draft Pick

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are expected to buck the trend in the NFL draft Thursday night. Quarterbacks have gone first overall the past four years, but most people believe there isn't one available worthy of the selection. So the Chiefs may opt for an offensive tackle, even though only two have been picked with the 1st selection since 1970. Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Central Michigan's Eric Fisher are the best bets, while Oklahoma's Lane Johnson is also in the mix. The Chiefs could also trade out of the pick.