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Headlines for Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Voters Challenge Kansas Citizenship Rule, Removal of Names 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas residents have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state's proof-of-citizenship requirement for new voters and plans to remove people who haven't complied from voter registration rolls. The two residents of Douglas County filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach predicted that the lawsuit is "going nowhere." Kobach is the architect of a law requiring people registering for the first time in Kansas to document their U.S. citizenship. He enacted a regulation requiring county election officials to purge voter rolls of registrations incomplete for more than 90 days. It takes effect Friday. Prospective voters Alder Cromwell and Cody Keener sought to register months ago but haven't met the proof-of-citizenship requirement. They're seeking a court order to block the purge and the proof-of-citizenship requirement.


State Employees Facing Higher Insurance Premiums, Costs 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas employees will be faced with higher deductibles and premiums under the state's new health insurance plan. Enrollment for the 2016 health plans begin next month. State workers will get to choose between two providers, each of which will offer two coverage plans: Plan A and Plan C.According to the Wichita Eagle, Plan A premiums will increase slightly, but workers on Plan C will see premiums nearly triple. Deductibles will increase across the board. Kansas Organization of State Employees argues the move is a backdoor pay cut for state workers. Meanwhile, officials at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment claim the higher premium rates are caused by regulations found in the Affordable Care Act.


Kansas Governor Uses Zombie Event to Promote Emergency Preparedness

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says if Kansas ever faces a zombie apocalypse, he might use a farm combine to mow them down. Brownback had a short Statehouse ceremony Wednesday to sign a proclamation designating October as "Zombie Preparedness Month." He told reporters that he and youngest son Mark, a high school student, have discussed how best to dispatch the walking dead. The governor's proclamation has the serious purpose of encouraging Kansas residents to prepare themselves for natural disasters and other emergencies. His event with emergency preparedness officials included an appearance by 15-year-old Valley Falls student Faith Tucking portraying a zombie. As for destroying zombies, Brownback said he and his son have discussed going to his parents' farm in Linn County and firing up a combine, assuming they had enough fuel.


Kansas Democrats Expected to Pick Veteran Activist as Leader 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Democrats are expected to pick a longtime Wichita-area activist as their new state chairman this weekend after the resignation of a leader who suggested rebranding the party. Prominent Democrats say Derby attorney Lee Kinch emerged quickly as the favored candidate for the job. The party's state committee plans to meet Saturday in Salina to select the new leader. Kinch said during an interview this week that he would focus as chairman on fundraising, recruiting candidates and picking up seats in the Legislature. The 76-year-old Kinch is a former party vice chairman and Democratic National Committee member. Former Chairman Larry Meeker resigned in August after less than six months on the job. Meeker upset other Democrats by talking about rebranding the state party and distancing it from national Democrats.


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 were banned from serving on school boards. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Legislative Research Department sent out a survey to school board members throughout the state 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 Anti-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 the doctor's car. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a move yesterday (TUE) by attorneys seeking a rehearing for anti-abortion activist Angel Dillard. A three-judge appeals panel ruled in July that the decision about whether 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.


Parole Revoked for Kansas Man Convicted in 1980 Double Murder

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Parole has been revoked for one of two men convicted in the 1980 Topeka killings of a woman and her young son. A Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman said Tuesday that the Prisoner Review Board revoked Tony Hobbs's parole after concluding he violated its conditions when he tested positive for methamphetamine. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Hobbs was convicted of first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the strangulation and stabbing death of 28-year-old Karen Crook and the drowning death of her 4-year-old son, Brandon Cook. Hobbs told police he used a pillow to try to smother Crook's 7-year-old son, but the boy survived. Board members have decided not to consider parole for Hobbs until March 2017.


Former KS Governor, HHS Secretary 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 reportsthat 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 who served in Congress and in the state Senate. His son, Gary Sebelius, is a federal magistrate judge and Kathleen Sebelius's husband. 


Favorable Conditions Help Spawn Oak Leaf Itch Mite Boom 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - People in eastern Kansas are feeling the bite as 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. 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.


Legislative Past Recorded in Kansas Oral History Project 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An oral history archive of Republican and Democratic legislative leaders is in the works in Kansas. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that former Kansas Sen. Robert Storey is among 10 former Kansas legislators to participate in a pilot project. Storey, now a Topeka attorney, shared his thoughts about the current batch of lawmakers Tuesday at the Capitol. He says they appear to lack the dedication to dig deeply into issues. Also participating is Rochelle Chronister, the first woman to chair the House budget committee and who was assistant majority leader for three years. She says compromise "is not a dirty word" and "is the way you accomplish things for people." The Kansas Humanities Council and Shawnee County Historical Society are sponsoring the project. Interviews are recorded, transcribed and archived.


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 while the core and control rods will remain the same. The Manhattan Mercury reports that many of the current console components are obsolete and difficult to repair, causing frequent reactor downtime. Reactor facilities managers say the new console will be safer and more reliable. A one-month reactor outage during the console replacement is planned for summer 2018.


Experts to Test Section of US 69 Near Mining Area 

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) — Scientists plan to conduct additional tests on a five-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 69 near the Oklahoma border to determine if it is safe for traffic. The Joplin Globe reports that the area in southern Cherokee County has been heavily mined for lead and zinc, so safety experts want to know if the rock above the mined area is susceptible to collapse. A previous survey of this section of U.S. 69 was completed in 2009. That report found no reason for concern, but did identify some spots where rock layers appeared to be weakening. A final report on U.S. 69 is due next June, but Kansas officials say they should have some indication of the road's condition by December.


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 agree the state had the authority to send the water to Kansas in 2013 to comply with the Republican River Compact but the group feels that they should have been compensated for the irrigation water that was lost. 


Lawrence Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Marijuana Trafficking 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - One of two northeast Kansas twin brothers convicted of roles in a multi-state marijuana-trafficking operation has been sentenced to more than 19 years in federal prison. Thirty-three-year-old Roosevelt Rico Dahda of Lawrence was sentenced Tuesday in Kansas City, Kansas. He was among 43 people accused in connection with the trafficking scheme. Authorities said more than 8,000 pounds of marijuana was transported from California to Lawrence and Kansas City over a seven year period.  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 today (WED).


Man Who Killed 5 in Denver Bar to Get Life Sentence 

DENVER (AP) — A man convicted of stabbing five people to death during a Denver bar robbery that netted $170 will be formally sentenced to life in prison. Twenty-five-year-old Dexter Lewis was convicted in August of five counts of murder for the October 2012 stabbings. One of those killed in the attack was Overland Park resident Ross Richter. A judge will sentence Lewis on Wednesday. Lewis's accomplices pleaded guilty to murder and received lengthy sentences. Relatives of Lewis's victims will have a chance to tell the judge about the crime's impact on their lives. Lewis and his family will also have an opportunity to speak. A jury refused to sentence Lewis to death, just after a separate jury could not agree on the death penalty for Colorado theater shooter James Holmes. The cases raised doubts about whether the death penalty will be imposed anytime soon in Colorado.


Candidates for Emporia State Presidency to Visit Campus

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) _ Two candidates for the Emporia State University presidency are scheduled to visit the campus next week.  The presidential search committee declined to name the finalists, saying they'll be disclosed the day before they arrive. The candidates will visit between October 6 and 9. The state Board of Regents will interview the candidates and make the final selection. The new president is expected to take office in January 2016.  Former President Michael Shonrock stepped down in April to become president at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.  Retired Butler County Community College President Jacqueline Vietti has been serving as interim president. 


Man Charged with Abduction in Jumper Cable Torture Incident 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been charged with abducting a 15-year-old boy and shocking him with jumper cables to get information about a robbery. The Wichita Eagle reports that 58-year-old Robert McDowell of Wichita was charged Tuesday with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and criminal threat in the attack early Sunday. It's not clear if McDowell has an attorney to comment on the charges. Wichita police Lieutenant James Espinoza says the boy told officers that McDowell took him at gunpoint 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 that he believed the teen knew who was responsible.


Police Identify Body Found Outside Kansas City, Kansas, Home

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police have identified a 20-year-old man who was found dead outside a Kansas City, Kansas, home. The body of Cristobal Marzanares-Sepulveda was discovered Monday afternoon. According to police, Marzanares-Sepulveda was found face down between a house and a fence with what appeared to be gunshot wounds. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward as the investigation continues.


Police: Rail Worker Killed by Train at Kansas Rail Yard

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a Union Pacific Railroad employee was found dead under a rail car in Kansas City, Kansas. According to police, officers responded to reports of a person trapped under a train in a rail yard around 11:20 am Tuesday. Police say when they arrived they found a man in his 40s dead. Officer Patrick McCallop with Kansas City, Kansas, police said the man was working in the rail yard on a train when he was struck by another train and pinned underneath. The man's identity has not been released and an investigation of the incident is ongoing.


Departing Teacher Who Lacked 'Passion' Faces State Complaint 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Hutchinson school district wants the state to cancel the teaching certificate of a woman who resigned because she said she no longer had "any more passion" for the job. The Hutchinson News reports Amanda Brackett said in her August 19 resignation letter that her third-grade students need somebody who will provide "the best education possible." Brackett, the mother of a baby, was under contract through May. Because of her contract, the school board voted unanimously to reject the resignation. The board gave Brackett grace time to reconsider, or it would file a complaint with the state, but she didn't return to work. The school board approved the hiring of a replacement Monday night. Superintendent Shelly Kiblinger says students "suffer" if teachers are allowed to leave abruptly.


World War II Legend Celebrated on 100th Birthday 

GARDNER, Kan. (AP) — The 100th birthday celebration for a one-of-a-kind World War II veteran lasted for days. The Joplin Globe reports that Richard Cole's birthday was September 7. But the festivities revved up last Thursday when the Texas man, who flew with Doolittle's Raiders, the Himalayan Hump Route pilots and the 1st Air Commandos, received a standing ovation at a Kansas City Royals game. Friday at New Century Airport in Gardner, Kansas, people purchased copies of a Park University professor's new biography about Cole. On Saturday, he climbed into a PT-19 for a flight. He was given a print of his famed B-25 superimposed on a historic front page of the Globe. Then Sunday, he tucked the key to the city of Olathe into his suitcase and headed home with "wonderful memories."


White Sox Rally Past Royals in 4-2 Win

CHICAGO (AP) - Kansas City Royals' pitcher Johnny Cueto threw six innings last night giving up three runs and eight hit. But the Royals fell behind and lost to the Chicago White Sox 4-2.  The Royals have lost four of their last five games. White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija won for the second straight time after losing nine of his 10 previous outings. The Royals have two more games versus the White Sox this week before moving on to Minnesota to finish the regular season with a three-game series versus the Twins over the weekend. 


Motorsports Appeals Panel Upholds Penalties Against Bowyer and MWR 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — An appeals committee has upheld penalties against Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing that effectively ends any shot Bowyer had at winning the Sprint Cup championship. The three-person National Motorsports Appeals Panel on Wednesday ruled NASCAR was correct in penalizing the No. 15 team for an illegally modified part two weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway. Bowyer was docked 25 points, which dropped him to last in the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field. Four drivers will be cut from the field after this weekend's race in Dover, Delaware. Crew chief Billy Scott will begin a three-race suspension this weekend. He was also fined $75,000 and placed on probation for six months.


KU Basketball Forward Dwight Coleby Tears ACL in Light Team Workout 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas forward Dwight Coleby, a transfer from Ole Miss, tore the ACL in his left knee during a light team workout last week and will be unable to practice with the team this season. Coleby had already planned to sit out under NCAA transfer rules. Jayhawks men's basketball coach Bill Self said Wednesday that Coleby will have surgery October 11, and he should be ready by the start of next season. The Bahamas native will have two seasons of eligibility left. Coleby started four of 28 games as a freshman two years ago, and played in all 34 games last season. He averaged 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds while helping Ole Miss go 21-13 and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.


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