Headlines for Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Attorneys Seek Pay Raise for Indigent Defense Work
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say the state may have to start looking outside its borders to find attorneys who will take the cases of indigent defendants. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that not enough experienced, qualified people in some counties are willing to work for the state rate. Kansas Board of Indigents' Defense Services executive director Patricia Scalia told a legislative committee Monday that the problem is especially severe in some of the state's smaller counties. Kansas statutes authorize the board to pay up to $80 per hour for private attorneys who agree to take appointed cases. But in 2010, budget problems led the board to cut the actual rate it pays to $62 per hour. Now, the board is seeking to raise the rate by $3 to $65 per hour.
Kansas Lawmakers Seek Data on School Board Members
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A legislative committee is seeking information about what would happen if spouses or relatives of school employees aren't allowed to serve on school boards. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Legislative Research Department sent out a survey to school board members throughout the state on Friday asking about the issue. Researcher Martha Dorsey says the request came initially from a committee that will be reviewing the effect of a bill that was introduced during the past session and tabled. The bill would restrict a person from serving on a local school board if his or her spouse, parent or sibling worked for any school district in the state. The bill also would restrict people who conduct business with school districts from serving on their local school boards
Appeals Court Refuses to Rehear Kansas Abortion Threat Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court will not reconsider its decision that an abortion opponent must stand trial over a letter she sent to a Wichita doctor saying someone might place an explosive under her car. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected on Tuesday a move seeking either a rehearing by the three-judge panel or by the full court. A three-judge appeals panel ruled in July that the decision about whether anti-abortion activist Angel Dillard's letter constituted a "true threat" should be left to a jury. The Justice Department sued Dillard in 2011 for sending the letter to Dr. Mila Means, who had been training to offer abortions. At the time, no doctor was performing abortions in Wichita in the wake of Dr. George Tiller's murder by an anti-abortion zealot.
Former KS Governor, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Speak at FHSU
HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is participating in a lecture series named after her late father-in-law. The Great Bend Tribune reports that Sebelius, also a former Kansas governor, is appearing October 12 at Fort Hays State University. The lecture series is named after Keith Sebelius, a Fort Hays graduate. He served in Congress and in the state Senate. His son, Gary Sebelius, is a federal magistrate judge and is married to Kathleen Sebelius. Tickets cost $10 for the general public and $5 for Fort Hays State University students. They're available for purchase online.
Favorable Conditions Help Spawn Oak Leaf Itch Mite Boom
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — People in the Kansas City region may soon feel the bite as favorable weather and environmental conditions have led to a boom in the oak leaf itch mite population. The Kansas State Extension office reports that it has fielded its highest number of mite-related calls in 10 years. The Kansas City Star reports that horticulture agent Dennis Patton has described the reproduction levels as hitting "epidemic proportions." Entomologists say one tree could shed more than 370,000 of the microscopic mites in just one day. Patton says over-the-counter bug repellents are not effective against the mites. Wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants helps limit exposure to them.
Kansas Voter List Purge Affects Young, Unaffiliated Most
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A newspaper report says young and politically unaffiliated Kansas residents are most likely to be affected by the state's plans to purge the names of people with incomplete registrations from its voter lists. The Wichita Eagle reports more than half of the prospective voters with incomplete registrations list no party affiliation. More than 40 percent are under the age of 30. The newspaper analyzed a list of nearly 36,700 suspended registrations obtained from Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office. Kobach has enacted a new administrative rule removing the names of any prospective voters whose registrations have been incomplete for more than 90 days. It takes effect Friday. Most incomplete registrations are for voters who haven't met a requirement to document their U.S. citizenship.
Woman Charged with Murder in Wichita Woman's Death
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A second person has been charged in the fatal shooting of a 66-year-old woman in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that 22-year-old Brittany McDay is jailed on $250,000 bond on a charge of first-degree murder and several other crimes in the death of Jacquelyn Harvey. During a court appearance Monday, McDay told a judge she's unemployed. Harvey's son found her dead on September 16, when he was dropping off his son so Harvey could take him to school. Police say her purse and vehicle were stolen. McDay also is accused of trying to use Harvey's debit card to buy more than $1,000 worth of merchandise from Wal-Mart on or around September 15. A second person, 21-year-old Jacob Strouse, was charged last week with several charges in Harvey's death.
Body Found Outside House in Kansas City, Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a man was found dead outside a Kansas City, Kansas, home. The Kansas City Star reports that the body was discovered Monday afternoon. Police said the man was found face down between a house and a fence and had what appeared to be gunshot wounds. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward.
Police: Man Arrested for Using Jumper Cables to Shock Teen
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 58-year-old man has been arrested after police say he attached jumper cables to the ears of a 15-year-old Kansas boy to get information about a robbery. Wichita police Lieutenant James Espinoza says the boy was walking early Sunday when he said someone placed a gun at his back. Espinoza says the suspect took the teen to a garage, tied him to a trailer hitch, then attached jumper cables to his ears and shocked him repeatedly while questioning him about a recent robbery. Police say the man's wallet had been stolen and he believed the teen knew who was responsible. The suspect eventually released the boy, who ran home and told his father what happened. He was taken to a hospital. The man faces charges of aggravated battery and kidnapping.
Judge Allows Nebraska Farmers' Republican River Lawsuit to Proceed
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A group of Nebraska farmers who say their crops suffered because the state improperly deprived them of irrigation water from the Republican River can proceed with their lawsuit. Attorney David Domina, who represents the group of about 150 farmers, said Tuesday that District Judge James Doyle had rejected the state's motion to dismiss the case. Domina says the farmers in the Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District agree the state had the authority to send the water to Kansas in 2013 to comply with the Republican River Compact. But Domina says the farmers should have been compensated for the irrigation water that was lost. A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Attorney General said she couldn't immediately comment on the ruling Tuesday afternoon.
Keystone XL Developer Drops Landowner Lawsuits in Nebraska
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline is reversing course in Nebraska and will drop its eminent domain lawsuits against landowners who don't want the pipeline running through their property. TransCanada Inc. announced Tuesday that it will stop pushing for the project under a state law that's now being challenged in the courts. The company says it will instead seek approval through the Nebraska Public Service Commission, an agency that regulates pipelines, warehouses and grain bins. TransCanada won approval from former Governor Dave Heineman, but the state law that allowed him to do so remains mired in court. TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper says the company believes that applying through the commission will reduce the local conflicts. Jane Kleeb, a leading pipeline opponent, says the company was losing ground in Nebraska.
Kansas State University to Use $1.5M Grant to Upgrade Reactor
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University is upgrading its nuclear reactor control console with a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The upgrade involves replacing the entire reactor console, including cabling and neutron detectors used to monitor reactor power. While the core and control rods will remain the same, plans call for replacing some of the auxiliary monitoring equipment to improve compatibility with the new console. The Manhattan Mercury reports that many of the current console components are obsolete and difficult to repair, causing frequent reactor downtime. Nuclear reactor facilities manager Jeff Geuther says the new console will be safer and more reliable. A one-month reactor outage for console replacement is planned for summer 2018.
Man Arrested for Placing Camera in Wichita Hospital Restroom
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 29-year-old man has been arrested after police say he tried to place a camera in a women's restroom at a Wichita hospital. According to Wichita police Lieutenant James Espinoza, the camera was discovered at Wesley Medical Center shortly before 8 pm Sunday. Authorities say the suspect was identified by the video on his own camera, which was recording as he placed the camera in the restroom. Espinoza said the man was arrested at the hospital on suspicion of breach of privacy. He was booked into Sedgwick County Jail and is being held on a $25,000 bond.
Nature Foundation Unveils $3.3M in Monarch Butterfly Grants
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A consortium that includes agribusiness giant Monsanto and a national wildlife group says $3.3 million in grants are being distributed as part of a bid to stem the decline of monarch butterflies. The 22 grants announced Monday by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will be matched by more than $6.7 million from recipients in at least a dozen states. The money is meant to restore up to 33,000 U.S. acres of habitat in areas identified by experts as key to monarch butterfly recovery. St. Louis-based Monsanto said in March it was committing $4 million, most of it to the foundation's Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund. Critics have partly blamed Monsanto's popular weed killer Roundup for knocking out monarch butterflies' habitat.
Kansas to Designate October as 'Zombie Preparedness Month'
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback is preparing to sign a proclamation designating October as "Zombie Preparedness Month" in Kansas. The governor has scheduled a signing ceremony for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and workers from the state Division of Emergency Management are expected to join him. The event has the serious purpose of encouraging Kansas residents to prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies. Brownback said in a statement that people should have disaster kits, make plans for handling such emergencies and practice their responses. Brownback also said, "If you're prepared for zombies, you're prepared for anything." The division said it and other public safety agencies plan to have zombie preparedness challenges on social media throughout the month.
Man Sentenced to 19 Years in Federal Prison in Drug Scheme
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — One of two northeast Kansas twin brothers convicted of roles in a multistate marijuana-trafficking operation has been sentenced to more than 19 years in federal prison. Thirty-three-year-old Roosevelt Rico Dahda of Lawrence, Kansas, was sentenced Tuesday in Kansas City, Kansas. Dahda was convicted last year of conspiracy in a monthslong trial. He was among 43 people accused in Kansas and California in connection with the trafficking authorities said involved 8,000 pounds of marijuana brought over seven years until 2012 to Lawrence and the Kansas City area, much of it from California. Investigators say they seized nearly $17 million in drug proceeds in the case. Roosevelt Dahda's brother and co-defendant, Los Rovell Dahda, is to be sentenced Wednesday.
Officials Try to Increase Attendance at RoadRunners Hockey Games
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee County Commission is trying to rally community support for the Topeka RoadRunners amateur hockey team. Commissioners voted in July to adopt a lease agreement to keep the team through at least the end of the 2017-18 season. After attending the team's home opener this month, commission chairman Kevin Cook lamented that many of the seats were empty. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that average attendance at the team's first four games this season was down about 40 percent compared to last season's average. Cook is encouraging residents who haven't attended a game to check it out and is sharing his concerns over the team's attendance with fans who urged the commission to keep the RoadRunners in Topeka.
US Drilling States Guided on Handling Quakes
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A working group of seismologists, academics and industry experts has issued guidance to state regulators for handling human-induced earthquakes caused by the disposal of wastewater associated with the hydraulic fracturing oil drilling process. The StatesFirst initiative's 150-page report was released Monday. It represents perhaps the most candid discussion on the topic since tremors across the mid-continent were first linked to fracking-related activity around 2009. But it stops short of suggesting model regulations. Ohio Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers, who co-chaired the effort, says that's because each state's regulatory framework, laws and geography are unique. Simmers described the report as a primer, providing states with up-to-date scientific and technical data, case studies and several suggested approaches for detecting and managing quakes tied to human activity.
California Man Sentenced for Driving Load of Heroin to KC
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A California man who was being paid to drive drugs to Kansas City has been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison without parole. Prosecutors say 21-year-old Juan Carlos Ahumada of San Ferdinando, California, pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to deliver heroin after being caught on Interstate 70 with 15 pounds of the drug. Ahumada was pulled over by a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper in Wabaunsee County, where investigators found a hidden compartment where the heroin was concealed. In his plea deal with prosecutors, Ahumada admitted he was hired to drive a load of the drug from California to Kansas City. He was sentenced Monday.
Report: Kansas Wheat Planting and Corn Harvest Making Progress
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A new government report shows Kansas farmers have planted nearly a quarter of their 2016 winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Monday that the 24 percent planted so far is close to the average for Kansas wheat planting at this point in the season. The agency also reported that about 42 percent of the corn in Kansas has now been harvested. Harvest also is under way for other major crops in the state. About 5 percent of the soybeans and 15 percent of the sorghum have been harvested.
Kansas Police Officer's Gesture Brings Homeless Man to Tears
ROELAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Touched by the plight of a homeless man forced to walk several hours a day to his job, a Kansas police officer stepped up with a gesture that brought the man to tears. Roeland Park officer Zack Stamper says he was just doing his job last week when he gave Samuel Meixueiro a bicycle to ride to and from the man's work as a liquor store cashier. Stamper threw in a duffel bag that replaced the man's suitcase with a broken zipper. The kindness drew tears from Meixueiro, who says he's been staying in a church while trying to save money for an apartment. Stamper's gesture came after he first met Meixueiro in a park while responding to a report of a suspicious person.
Former St. Joseph Superintendent's Pension Under Scrutiny
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A former St. Joseph superintendent may be forced to repay several hundred thousand dollars in overpaid pension benefits. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that Dan Colgan's income was reported as more than $586,000 during his last three years as superintendent. Colgan left in 2005. However, the total salary and insurance benefit as specified in his contract was $343,287. One issue was that an annuity and car allowances were incorrectly included in the income calculation. The Missouri Public School & Education Employee Retirement Services of Missouri sent a letter to district officials last month. School board member Eric Bruder says the board continued to monitor the situation. Colgan doesn't have a listed phone number. The district has been making changes after receiving a highly critical state audit in February.
Packers Beat Kansas City Chiefs 38-28
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 333 yards and five touchdowns last night as the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 38-28. Rodgers led the Packers (3-0) on two successful first-quarter drives that ended with scoring passes then threw a 27-yard touchdown late in the second quarter for a 17-point lead at half-time. The Chiefs' Jamaal Charles rushed for three touchdowns for Kansas City (1-2), for a respectable fourth-quarter effort at Lambeau Field. But the end result was a second straight loss for Kansas City.
Cubs Shut Out Royals to Win 1-0 in 11 Innings
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs' Chris Denorfia hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 11th inning last night to give the Cubs a 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night. It was the Cubs' major league-leading 13th walk-off victory of the season. Cubs' starter Kyle Hendricks allowed just two hits in six scoreless innings. Royals' pitcher Yordano Ventura gave Kansas City a good start allowing two hits over seven scoreless innings. The game was a makeup of a May 30 rainout. The Royals stay in Chicago to begin a three-game set versus the White Sox tonight.