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Headlines for Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Kansas AG Obtains Order to Protect Funding for State Courts 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has obtained a court order that prevents the judiciary from having its funding cut off through mid-March. Schmidt's office filed a petition Tuesday in Neosho County District Court to block enforcement of a law enacted earlier this year by legislators. The law tied the judicial branch's entire budget to a change in how chief judges of district courts are selected. Neosho County District Judge Daryl Ahlquist granted Schmidt's request, preventing enforcement of the law until March 15. The Legislature reconvenes in January. The same law is being challenged in a separate lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court by four district judges. Under an earlier policy enacted last year by legislators, local judges pick their chief justices, stripping the Kansas Supreme Court of the decisions.


Kansas Supreme Court Rejects Shawnee Mission Intervention in School Funding Case 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Supreme Court will not allow the Shawnee Mission School District to intervene in a lawsuit over school funding. The court on Monday upheld a lower court's ruling that Shawnee Mission, a wealthy district in Johnson County, waited too long to intervene in a lawsuit brought by four other school districts in 2010. Wichita, Hutchinson, Kansas City and Dodge City districts contend in the lawsuit that current school funding in Kansas does not meet a state mandate to provide suitable school funding. Shawnee Mission argued that the four districts could not adequately represent its interests in the lawsuit. 


Feds Award Grants for Police Body Cameras in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ The federal government has awarded grants for law enforcement body cameras to Wichita, Dodge City, Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Monday the U.S. Justice Department grants are among $23.2 million awarded to 73 law enforcement agencies in 32 states to increase the use of body cameras. President Barack Obama has proposed buying 50,000 body cameras for law enforcement agencies in three years. Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, will receive $352,500; Wichita will get $250,000 and Dodge City will receive $45,205. The money will be used to purchase the cameras and provide training for officers who will be equipped with the new gear. The grants require a 50/50 local match and the local governments must pay for long-term storage of information from the cameras.  


Brownback Intervenes in Auction of Illegally-Hunted Deer Heads

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A 14-point whitetail deer head was removed from a state auction of illegally hunted trophy deer heads at the request of Governor Sam Brownback's office because of a continuing dispute over its ownership. A spokesman for the governor says the Legislature asked that the state remove the deer head until lawmakers consider several issues raised by the ownership dispute. The Salina Journal reports the owners of the land in Osage County on which the deer was illegally shot in 2011 are fighting for ownership of the deer head. The Legislative considered a bill in 2014 that would require state government to give landowners first rights to buy wildlife illegally poached on their land. The auction of more than 100 deer trophy heads, antlers, guns and boats brought in $90,000.


Second Threat in 10 Days Against El Dorado High School

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — El Dorado officials are searching for the person or people who have disrupted school activities twice in 10 days with threats on social media. El Dorado High School was locked down Monday for about two hours after a student reported a threat on social media. All rooms were screened before students were released on schedule. On September 11, El Dorado's football game against Augusta was postponed because of another threat on social media. The game was played two days later. School officials said in a news release the district will seek discipline or prosecution against those responsible for the threats. The district also said that it does not assume the threats come from a student or students. Details of the threats were not released.


Kansas Health Worker Testifies on His Own Behalf 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The defense has rested in the first-degree murder trial of a Kansas health care worker accused of killing a client with cerebral palsy. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that closing arguments are planned for Wednesday in the case of 49-year-old Ronald Eugene Heskett. The Eudora man responded Tuesday to prosecution claims that he killed 65-year-old Vance Moulton for financial reasons. The defense has argued the September 2014 killing was an assisted suicide. Heskett says the reason $13,000 was missing after Moulton's death was because the men were partnering in a money-making venture. Heskett said they invested in a 1972 Chevelle to fix up and sell for a profit. The goal was to help raise money for a wheelchair-accessible van. Heskett says they didn't tell anyone else about the agreement.


Junction City Reassessing Plans for Lots After Overbuilding 

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Junction City officials remain optimistic that lots the city took back after overbuilding a decade ago will be sold, even though only two of the first 25 lots offered for sale received bids. The city took back 900 undeveloped lots left empty after the city was told in 2005 that as many as 8,000 troops would be transferred to Fort Riley. About 5,500 troops arrived but most preferred to live on base or couldn't afford the new housing. City Manager Allen Dinkel says a construction company bid on two adjacent lots during the recent auction. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Dinkel said the first 25 lots were not adjacent to each other and many developers have said they would be interested if they could buy larger groups of lots together.


VA Seeking Feedback from Kansas Veterans at Town Hall

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center wants to hear directly from veterans and their families about their experiences with their services. The facility has scheduled a town hall from 1 pm to 3 pm on Thursday in the facility's auditorium. The agency VA's regional office in Wichita also will be holding a benefits claim clinic from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Representatives from the Dole VA Medical Center will be available to provide one-on-one assistance to veterans during the town hall. Senior staff and medical experts will be in attendance as well, in a move to improve communications with veterans, their families, and other beneficiaries. Veterans can get help for their benefits claims at the clinic, and the VA says staff will be on hand to finalize their claims as appropriate.


'Improvised Explosive Devices' Blamed in Topeka Highway Blast

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Newly released court records say a Topeka car explosion that severely injured a 4-year-old boy also peeled back the vehicle's metal roof. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that it obtained an affidavit Tuesday in the case against Jacob Daniel Schell. The 37-year-old was charged earlier this month in the July 5 explosion. The affidavit says that a sack containing "several improvised explosive devices" blew up in the lap of Schell's son. A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper said the ignition source was a "little cap gun" the boy was using. Schell described what exploded as leftover fireworks from a campout. But the state fire marshal's agent said damage to this vehicle was consistent with commercially made or homemade explosives. Schell's attorney didn't immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press.


Man Robs Bank in Kansas City Suburb of Overland Park 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating after a man robbed a bank in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park. The Kansas City Star reportsthat police say the robbery happened Tuesday afternoon at a U.S. Bank branch. Witnesses reported that the robber ran west from the bank carrying a handgun. No injuries were reported.


KC Judge Orders Minimum Wage Proposal Removed from Ballot 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A proposal that called for Kansas City's minimum wage to increase to $15 per hour won't appear on the November ballot.

The Kansas City Star reports that a Jackson County (Missouri) Judge on Tuesday ordered the measure's removal. Presiding Circuit Judge Justine DelMuro said a new Missouri law clearly prohibits Kansas City from adopting its own minimum wage. A citizen group had collected enough signatures to force a minimum wage vote. Assistant City Attorney Sarah Baxter told Del Muro that Kansas City shouldn't be forced to spend $500,000 for an election on an issue that state law forbids. But backers of the petition initiative argued the new state law is flawed and can be challenged in court, if Kansas City voters signal their approval for a higher minimum wage.


State Appeals Court to Hear Cases at WSU, KU, KSU 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Court of Appeals is moving its proceedings to Kansas college and university campuses to commemorate the September 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution. Three-judge panels will hear cases today (TUE) at Wichita State University, the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. After arguments, the audience will have a chance to ask general questions about the judicial process. Chief Judge Thomas Malone says that moving the proceedings to the campuses gives students "a chance to see their judicial branch of government at work" and might "help spark an interest in pursuing a legal career."


KU - JCCC Offer Cooperative Degree Program

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas and Johnson County Community College are offering a degree program that will allow students to take classes simultaneously at both institutions. The schools announced Monday that students enrolled in the Degree Partner Program will take core classes at the community college and upper-level courses for their major at the university. Students will have access to advising and support from both schools. Officials at both schools said the program will allow students to take the courses they need at each institution when it works out best for them.


World Series Ball Raises $30K for Kansas Batboy's Memorial 

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — The sale of a 1962 autographed World Series baseball has raised $30,000 for a memorial statue honoring the 9-year-old Kansas batboy who died when he was accidentally hit by a bat. Kaiser Carlile, batboy for the Liberal Bee Jays, died August 2, a day after he was hit in the head by a player's swing during a National Baseball Congress World Series game in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that the autographed baseball from the 1962 New York Yankees will be displayed at the Seward Community College in Liberal.


KU Graduate, KS Native Writes Screenplay for 'Black Mass' Film

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas graduate is winning accolades after his adaptation of a 2001 true-crime book made it to the big screen in a movie starring Johnny Depp. Mark Mallouk attended the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of "Black Mass" last week. The film is based on his adaption of the book "Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob." The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Mallouk grew up in Prairie Village and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1995. He later moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in screenwriting. "Black Mass" opened Friday at more than 3,500 movie theaters nationwide.


Man Gets 3 Years in Diving Death of Kansas Man


KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — A commercial fisherman found guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the death of a Kansas diver who died while harvesting sea cucumbers was sentenced to three years in prison. The Ketchikan Daily News reports that a judge on Monday suspended two years of the sentence for 33-year-old Joshua Wodyga. A jury in January convicted him on the lesser charge but found him not guilty of manslaughter. Prosecutors argued that Wodyga's negligence in maintaining an air compressor and air filter led to the death of 32-year-old Levi Adams, of Leawood, Kansas. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning and drowning while he and Wodyga were diving in October 2013 in waters off Mountain Point. Wodyga's public defender, Mark Osterman, said he plans to appeal the sentence.


Cherryvale Man Gets 7 Years in Prison for Child Pornography

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 35-year-old Cherryvale man has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison for possessing and distributing child pornography. According to U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, Daniel Hosier was sentenced Monday. He had been found guilty in April. Prosecutors say Hosier emailed images of child pornography in March 2013, and had explicit images on laptop computers and a smartphone in July 2013.


Ruling Gives KC Chiefs Age Discrimination Lawsuit Fresh Life 

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A lawsuit claiming that that the Kansas City Chiefs fired an older maintenance manager because of his age has received fresh life. On Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court vacated a Jackson County jury's decision that the club didn't discriminate in Steve Cox's firing. The judges found that it was wrong to preclude 20 other former employees from testifying that they also lost their jobs because they were older. The state Supreme Court has sent the case back to the lower court for reconsideration. Cox was 61 in 2010 when he was fired and replaced with a 37-year-old worker. The Chiefs have argued that Cox was terminated for performance issues and insubordination. A Chiefs attorney didn't immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment on the ruling.


2 Killed, 1 Critically Injured in Harper County Crash


ANTHONY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two people have been killed in a rollover crash on a south-central Kansas dirt road. The Harper County Sheriff's Office says the crash happened early Tuesday when 19-year-old Angel Wright of Merriam lost control of the car she was driving. She was killed along with 27-year-old Clyde Schreiber of Anthony. Another passenger was flown to a Wichita hospital with critical injuries. Officials say the three weren't wearing seatbelts and were ejected.


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