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Headlines for Friday, August 6, 2015


Kobach to Start Voter Fraud Prosecutions in September  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he'll start prosecuting voter fraud cases in September and will focus on cases of double voting from the 2010 election. Kobach's office is aiming for mid-September to begin filing charges. Double voting refers to when a person casts a ballot in more than one jurisdiction in the same election. Kobach said his office has been working with other states to get documents to support the claims of double voting. Kobach won the authority to prosecute election crimes during this past legislative session. That authority went into effect July 1. Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern that Kobach will pursue unnecessary prosecutions and say that the effort is an attempt to suppress voting.


Kansas AG Joins Other States in Calling for Delay in Federal Pollution Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. _ Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has joined 15 other states in signing a letter asking the US Environmental Protection Agency to delay the implementation of new pollution regulations for power plants. The federal agency announced its Clean Power Plan this week setting a goal to reduce power plant carbon emissions by 32 percent by the year 2030. States will be required to submit plans to the federal government on how they will meet that goal or the EPA will step in and implement the standards. Schmidt says meeting that deadline would be prohibitively expensive for the state's power companies and that those costs would be passed along to Kansas consumers.


Kansas Utility Agrees to $78M Hike in Electric Rates 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Westar Energy has reached an agreement with a consumer advocacy group and the state's utility regulating agency to scale back a proposed increase in the utility's annual rates to $78 million. The utility had sought a $152 million rate increase. Westar announced Thursday that it had reached a settlement with the Citizens' Utility Ratepayers Board and the Kansas Corporation Commission in its rate case. The KCC regulates the state's utilities and sets electric rates. Westar, the largest electric company in Kansas, had said it needed a rate increase primarily to cover costs for power plant improvements mandated by federal air pollution standards. The company said that under the agreement households will see their electric bills rise between $5 and $7 a month.



Topeka Police to Alter Policy After Dog Killed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka Police Department says it's planning changes to policies on how police deal with dogs after an officer recently shot and killed a retired judge's pet. A Topeka police officer fatally shot the 26-pound dog in July after it began charging in the backyard of James Macnish, a retired Shawnee County district judge who owned the dog. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the police department also released a video from the officer's body camera that shows him fatally shooting the dog. Police Chief James Brown said at a news conference Thursday that the officer's actions were appropriate, but upcoming changes will recognize that officers have other tools, including pepper spray, to possibly control aggressive animals. The new rules will also require officers to undergo training in handling dog encounters.


Topeka Man Receives 10 Citations for Dog Attacks in Park 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 28-year-old Topeka man has received 10 citations after police say his two pit bull-type dogs attacked three people, including an 11-year-old boy. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Angelo Aldridge was issued six citations for a dangerous dog, two for having a dog at large and two for not having a city tag for them. Police say the two dogs bit the boy, who escaped to the top of some monkey bars, and two men, ages 21 and 33, who tried to intervene. A Topeka police officer shot one of the dogs and both were captured by police, who were called to Chesney Park at 2:09 pm Thursday. Police Chief James Brown says the officer who shot the dog probably saved several lives. None of the bites were considered life-threatening.


Major General Wayne Grigsby Takes Command of Fort Riley 

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — The commander of Fort Riley and the Big Red One has handed over leadership and is leaving for a new position in Washington. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Major General Paul Funk II on Thursday gave command of the 1st Infantry Division to Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Jr. during a change-of-command ceremony. Funk took command in May 2013 and is leaving Fort Riley to serve as the Army's assistant deputy chief of staff for operations and plans. Grigsby assumes command after 31 years of military service, including his most recent assignment as commander of the Combined Joint Task Force based in East Africa. Grigsby has also been stationed at Fort Leavenworth and served in multiple deployments to Iraq, including as commander of the 1st Infantry Division's G3 unit for two years.


Apology Over Expanded Fees at Wichita State 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The dean of Wichita State University's College of Engineering has apologized to students for failing to warn them earlier about fee increases. The Wichita Eagle reports that Royce Bowden emailed 3,000 students from his college this week, apologizing that more information wasn't communicated sooner about the fee hikes. The expanded fee charges both engineering and health professions students $50 per credit hour for every class they take. They had been paying the $50-per-credit-hour fee only for courses they take for their major. About 75 engineering students have called student leaders expressing shock at bills that, in some cases, added more than $1,000 to the student costs. Wichita State spokesman Lou Heldman says the university president plans to meet with student leaders soon to answer questions.


Investors Who Lost Bid for Southeast Kansas Casino Sue 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys for investors who lost a bid to build a casino in southeast Kansas have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the decision. Castle Rock Casino is suing the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, the Kansas Gaming Facility Review Board and members of the groups. The Kansas Lottery and its executive director are also named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit filed July 31 in Shawnee County challenges a decision in June to support a $70 million Kansas Crossing Casino proposal to be built near Pittsburg. Castle Rock had proposed building a $145 million casino complex in Cherokee County. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports Castle Rock officials argue the review board made the wrong decision and did not follow the law when choosing the smaller project.


3 People Die in Accident in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A collision that killed three people in Wichita came after a brief police pursuit. Wichita police say an officer noticed a man driving a Ford pickup erratically and without headlights early Friday in south Wichita. Captain Jeff Weible says the driver refused to pull over, prompting a chase that lasted less than a minute. Weible says less than 10 minutes later, the speeding truck collided with a Cadillac. A 31-year-old Wichita man driving the truck was killed, along with a 69-year-old man and a 62-year-old woman from Haysville who were in the other vehicle. Weible says the truck driver did not seem to realize he was no longer being pursued. He says the officer followed proper protocol.


No Reports of Fetal Tissue Donations in Kansas for 15 Years 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has not received a single report on the handling of fetal tissue in the 15 years that it's been legally required whenever such tissue is transferred. The department 's disclosure comes amid a national debate about fetal tissue spurred by the release of videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue for medical research. The videos were filmed covertly by anti-abortion activists. A 2000 Kansas law bans the sale of fetal tissue and requires anyone legally donating it to file a report providing details. The state's abortion providers say they don't participate in fetal tisssue donation programs. Abortion opponents say another possible explanation is that the requirement is being ignored.


US Penitentiary Guard in Leavenworth Charged with Bribery 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal prison guard at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth has been indicted on charges of accepting bribes from inmates in exchange for tobacco. The office of the U.S. Attorney for Kansas said Thursday that Michael Harston, of Kansas City, Missouri, was indicted Wednesday on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and four counts of accepting bribes. The Topeka Capital Journal reports Harston is accused of taking bribes from inmates in exchange for tobacco, which is considered contraband at the medium-security prison. 


Kansas Mower Manufacturer to Expand to Edgerton

HESSTON, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas-based mowing equipment manufacturer plans to open a new plant in Edgerton and create 200 jobs. Excel Industries, based in Hesston, said Thursday that it will open the new plant in Logistics Park in Johnson County. The company says the plant will initially be used for warehousing and distribution and will eventually manufacture an existing product. The company's products, which include golf course equipment, are marketed as the Hustler Turf Equipment and Big Dog Mower Co. brands.  The Kansas City Star reports  that Excel also said it expects to hire more employees at its Hesston headquarters during the next several years as it adds products.  


Wichita Bicyclist Sentenced to 5 Years for Road Rage Shooting   

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A bicyclist has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for shooting a motorist in the face in a fit of road rage last year in Wichita. Twenty-nine-year-old Jonathan Newcomb was sentenced Thursday to 59 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $19,600 in restitution. He had pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder. Prosecutors said that Newcomb was riding a bicycle on August 13th, 2014, when he and Luis Leon-Olmos nearly collided. A confrontation ensued and video surveillance shows Newcomb pulling a pistol from a holster and shooting Leon-Olmos in the face. Leon-Olmos lost his left eye in the shooting. Newcomb was arrested a short time later.


Suspect in Kansas Shooting Arrested After Standoff

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 46-year-old man faces murder charges in the shooting death of his employer in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that Willie E. Parker is charged in Wyandotte County District Court with first-degree murder in the July 28 shooting death of 54-year-old Michel Ziade of Lee's Summit. Parker was an employee of the medical transport company that Ziade owned. The shooting occurred in a parking lot near the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. Parker was taken into custody in Missouri on Thursday evening after a five-hour standoff with police and waived his right to fight extradition back to Kansas during a brief court hearing Friday. Parker was expected to be returned to Wyandotte County later Friday. It's unclear if Parker has a lawyer.


Memorial Service for Former KU Chancellor Set for Sunday Afternoon; Will Be Streamed 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The memorial service on Sunday for former University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway will be streamed online and broadcast at the Lied Center, where overflow seating will be available. The Lawrence Journal World reports that the service for the university's 16th chancellor will start at 2 pm Sunday at the Dole Institute of Politics. A reception in the Lied Center's main lobby will follow. Hemenway died July 31 at a Lenexa nursing home from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 73. His family asks that memorial contributions be made in lieu of flowers to the Robert E. Hemenway Scholarship fund, handled by the KU Endowment Association. Hemenway served as chancellor from 1995 to 2009. The university will provide the live video stream at journalism.ku.edu/live/doleinstitute.


Sedgwick County Makes $1.38M Selling Rural Land Parcels 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County has garnered more than $1 million from the recent auction sales of four parcel of land. The Wichita Eagle reports four parcels of land owned by Sedgwick County were sold at auction Thursday, generating more than $1 million in county revenue. Three parcels totaling about 317 acres were sold together for $1.43 million, and a fourth 43-acre parcel was sold for $94,600, totaling $1,524,600. The land was most recently used for agriculture. After costs of sale and closing expenses are subtracted, the county is expected to net about $1.38 million. There were 15 registered bidders for the auction.


'America's Got Talent' Performers Plan Tour in October

NEW YORK (AP) — Popular performers from the NBC series "America's Got Talent" are heading on the road this fall. The "America's Got Talent Live: The All-Stars Tour!" kicks off October 6 in Salina. The tour will feature top stars from the long-running variety competition series, including comedian Taylor Williamson, singer Emily West, acrobatic duo The KriStef Brothers and "junk rock" performers Recycled Percussion. Tickets go on sale Friday. More performers will be announced at a later date. The tour will visit 42 cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans and Los Angeles. It wraps on November 22 in Reno, Nevada. "America's Got Talent" is in its 10th season. It airs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 pm Central time.


Tigers Top Royals, 8-6 in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — The Tigers' Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning Thursday to give Detroit an 8-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Victor Martinez hit a three-run homer in the third and a two-run shot in the fifth to help the Tigers take a 6-3 lead. The Royals tied the game with a three-run seventh inning. But Detroit's Alex Wilson (2-3) got the win after getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth. The Royals return to Kauffman Stadium today (FRI) for a 3-game series versus the Chicago White Sox.


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