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Headlines for Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The latest Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press and KPR newsroom
The latest Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press and KPR newsroom

School Proposal Would Ban Most Teacher Bargaining

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A commission charged with studying efficiencies in Kansas schools considered a proposal that would ban teachers from most collective bargaining. A proposed bill one of several considered Monday by the K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission. It would limit teacher negotiations to only wages, salaries and hours of work, even if the teachers union and Boards of Education agreed to negotiate on other issues. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports other draft legislation would allow districts to consolidate administrative services and others creating commissions to study district reorganization and district cash balances. The commission was created as part of a school finance bill during the last session to study whether the state is effectively spending its education dollars to benefit students. It will make recommendations to the Legislature next year.


Rise in Kansas Cattle Thefts Caused by High Prices 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say record cattle prices have led to an increase in cattle theft reports. Authorities say five longhorn cows and a bull, worth at least $10,000, were recently taken from a pasture in southeast Kingman County. A Reno County producer says four 600-pound calves were stolen this month. The Kansas Animal Health Commissioner tells the Hutchinson News that he noticed an uptick in theft reports funneled through his agency's brands department. On Monday, the Kansas attorney general and the state's agriculture department announced an agreement to form a new investigative unit to combat the increase in cattle thefts. It will assist local law enforcement agencies in their suspected cattle theft investigations.


USGS: High Plains Aquifer Groundwater Declining 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey says groundwater levels are declining in an aquifer that serves parts of Kansas and seven other states. The USGS has released a report on changes in groundwater levels in the High Plains Aquifer, also known as the Ogallala Aquifer. USGS scientist Virginia McGuire says measurements between 2011 and 2013 represent a large decline in groundwater levels and are likely due to increased groundwater pumping. In 2011, water in the aquifer totaled about 2.92 billion acre-feet, a decline of about 267 million acre-feet, or 8 percent, since 1950. Change in water levels from 2011 to 2013 was a decline of 36 million acre-feet in just two years. The aquifer underlies about 175,000 square miles in Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.


No Death Penalty for Child Killer 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man convicted of raping and killing an 8-year-old Topeka girl will not face the death penalty. A Shawnee County jury on Tuesday said it was unable to unanimously recommend that 31-year-old Billy Frank Davis Jr. receive capital punishment for the death of Ahliyah Nachelle Irvin. The girl disappeared from a Topeka apartment in March 2012. Her body was found later the same day stuffed inside a clothes dryer in a blood-stained basement near the apartment. Defense attorneys argued that Davis had mental health issues and was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and didn't intend to kill the girl. Under state law, the jury's decision means that Davis will be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. His sentencing is scheduled for February 13.


Kansas Firm Moves Ahead on Wind Power Purchase

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The largest electric company in Kansas says it will purchase power from a wind farm under development to meet a state renewable-energy mandate for utilities. Westar Energy's announcement Tuesday comes with legislators preparing to debate repealing the requirement. Westar said it will purchase power from the Cedar Bluffs wind farm in Ness and Trego counties in western Kansas after the farm begins operating by the end of next year. The Topeka-based utility said the new wind farm will provide 200 megawatts of power. Westar said the plans are part of its efforts to comply with a state law requiring renewable resources to make up 20 percent of utilities' generating capacity by 2020. But some legislators want to repeal the rule after convening their annual session January 12.


Miller Claims Evaluation Found Him Fit to Stand Trial 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An avowed white supremacist accused of killing three people outside two suburban Kansas City Jewish facilities on the eve of Passover this year says a mental evaluation has determined that he is mentally fit to stand trial. Aurora, Missouri resident Frazier Glenn Miller is charged with capital murder in the April 13 attacks outside a Jewish community center in Leawood, Kansas, and a nearby Overland Park retirement home. The 73-year-old told The Associated Press one of his attorneys informed him last week that a court-ordered competency evaluation found that he is mentally sound. Johnson County, Kansas, District Attorney Steve Howe says a judge has issued a gag order that prevents him or other attorneys from discussing the case. Multiple phone messages left for Miller's lawyers were not returned.


Woman's Body Found in South-Central Kansas

KIOWA, Kan. (AP) — Officers are investigating after a woman's body was found behind a convenience store in a small south-central Kansas town. The Barber County Sheriff says the body was found Monday afternoon behind the Little Store in Kiowa. No further details have been released, including the woman's identity or a possible cause of death. KAKE-TV reports the area where the body was found is secluded and investigators aren't sure how long the woman's body was there. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is helping with the investigation.


Sheriff: South Kansas Man Charged with Murder

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in southern Kansas have charged a man with murder in the death of another man. The Kingman County Sheriff's Office said Monday that 50-year-old David Younger was booked into the county jail. He is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 62-year-old Danny Ely. Both men are from Kingman. The sheriff's office says deputies responded to a report of a suspicious death around 2 pm Monday. It didn't release other details. It wasn't immediately clear if Younger has an attorney.


Kansas-Based Bitcoin Equipment Seller to Reopen

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas bitcoin company that was shut down after being sued by the federal government will be allowed to reopen. A federal judge has ruled that Overland Park-based Butterfly Labs can resume operations under several restrictions. The company was closed in September after the Federal Trade Commission charged it had taken millions of dollars for computer equipment it didn't deliver. It was later allowed to resume limited operations under a court-appointed receiver. The Kansas City Star reports U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes last week rejected the government's request for a preliminary injunction that would have kept Butterfly Labs under the receiver's control while the original complaint was pursued. Wimes said the FTC has not shown that it was likely to succeed on the original charges.


Koch Gives $11.25 Million to Wichita State 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University will receive an $11.5 million donation from Koch Industries and the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation. The university said Tuesday the gift is the largest single-time donation in the school's history. The Wichita Eagle reports that the money will be divided in five ways: $4.5 million to expand and renovate the Charles Koch Arena and the Student Athlete Success Center; $3.75 million for a "Maker Space" in a new building for inventors and entrepreneurs; $1.54 million for Honors College scholarships; $1 million for student inventions; and $460,000 for moving expenses when the new Global Trading Center relocates to a new building. The donation to the athletic department starts a fundraising project of about $15 million for athletics facilities.


KS Woman Charged in 10-Year-Old Son's Death

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) _ Police in south-central Kansas have charged a woman who they say stabbed her 10-year-old son to death in his bedroom.  Thirty-three-year-old Lindsey Blansett of Wellington is being held at the Sumner County Jail on a half-million dollars bond.  She is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her son, Caleb Blansett.  Wellington police say the boy had gone to bed on Sunday when Lindsey Blansett entered his room with a rock and knife. They say she struck him with the rock and stabbed him multiple times in the chest.  The Wellington Daily News reports a 9-year-old girl in the house was taken into protective custody on Monday and released to family members. 


2 Kansas Men Plead Guilty in Synthetic Drug Scheme

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Two Kansas men have pleaded guilty to operating a synthetic drug business that generated at least $16 million in sales in less than two years.  Federal prosecutors say 58-year-old Tracy Picanso and 56-year-old Roy Ehrett, both of Olathe, pleaded guilty yesterday (MON) to various drug charges and to laundering money.  The men owned an Olathe-based business that produced and sold synthetic marijuana and stimulants in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado and several other states.  Prosecutors say some of the drugs were manufactured in buckets with drill-powered mixers.  The two men will be sentenced in April.


Topeka 1st-Grader Brings Loaded Gun to School

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Shawnee County Sheriff's Office says a first-grade student brought a loaded handgun to school but didn't display it or make any threats.  The student "self-reported'' having the gun yesterday (MON) at Indian Hills Elementary School in Topeka.  The gun was "rendered safe'' by an officer at the scene. He says the weapon was loaded but there were no rounds in the chamber.  The sheriff's office says the child brought the gun from home.  School officials say the weapon was never taken out of the student's backpack.


Sheriff: Southern KS Man Charged with Murder

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities in southern Kansas have charged a man with murder in the death of another man.  The Kingman County Sheriff's Office says 50-year-old David Younger was booked into the county jail. He is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 62-year-old Danny Ely. Both men are from Kingman.  The sheriff's office says deputies responded to a report of a suspicious death around 2pm Monday. It didn't release other details.  It wasn't immediately clear if Younger has an attorney.


Police: Woman Thrown from Truck After Chiefs Game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Police say a 23-year-old woman has been thrown from the bed of a pickup truck after leaving a Kansas City Chiefs football game at Arrowhead Stadium.    Alexa Brosseit was hospitalized with serious injuries to her head and neck after the Sunday crash.  Police say a 22-year-old man was driving the truck with a woman in the passenger seat when he hit a guardrail on Interstate 435.  The impact ejected Brosseit from the vehicle. Her condition was unclear early Tuesday.  It's unclear what caused the crash. The driver was arrested and released.


Christmas Thieves Cause Trouble in Arkansas City

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _Arkansas City police are investigating a Grinch-like crime in the town. Police say thieves who hit at least 10 homes during the weekend stole mostly Christmas decorations and broke several windows. Police say the thefts were likely related.


Drug Evidence Against Professor Ruled Inadmissible 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri appeals court has upheld a lower court's ruling that evidence of a marijuana-growing operation found in a university professor's home can't be used against him because of an invalid search warrant. Matthew Rouch was a professor in Northwest Missouri State University's Communications Department when he made what he thought was a humorous comment on Facebook in August 2013 about wanting to go to the top of the campus bell tower with a rifle and gatling gun. Campus police were notified of the comment and got a warrant to search his home for guns, but instead found evidence of a marijuana growing operation. A Nodaway County court granted Rouch's motion to suppress the evidence because the search warrant was invalid, and on Tuesday the Missouri Court of Appeals concurred.


Slugger Morales Finalizes Deal with Royals 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have finalized a $17 million, two-year deal with veteran slugger Kendrys Morales. Morales gives the Royals a new designated hitter after Billy Butler agreed to a free agent deal with Oakland. Kansas City will hope last season was an aberration for Morales, who hit .218 with eight homers and 42 RBIs in 98 games with the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners. Two years ago, Morales hit .277 with 23 homers for Seattle. The 31-year-old Morales will get $6.5 million next year and $9 million in 2016. The deal includes an $11 million mutual option for 2017 with a $1.5 million buyout. Morales can make an additional $750,000 in performance bonuses in each of the first two seasons based on plate appearances.


Hali Nominated for Walter Payton Award 

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL has announced the 32 players eligible for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Among the nominees are Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, Dallas running back DeMarco Murray, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, and Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis, who was a finalist last year. Named for the late Hall of Fame running back, the award recognizes a player's community service and performance on the field. Each team nominates a player, and the NFL Foundation donates $1,000 to a charity of his choice. The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 contribution. The finalists will be announced next month. The winner will receive a $20,000 donation in his name to his favorite charity. The announcement will be made during the NFL Honors show January 31, the night before the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.


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