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Your local and regional news for Northeastern Kansas and the surrounding communities, brought to you by the KPR news staff.

Panel Hopes to Improve KS Court System

Today (TUE), members of a panel looking to make the Kansas court system better stop in Topeka. The Blue Ribbon commission is making 19 stops around the state to listen to comments from citizens around Kansas. Ron Keefover, with the Office of Judicial Administration, ays the public's input is vital at these hearings.

The commission will hold two public hearings in Topeka today (TUE) at 2:30 and at 6 in the Public Library. The next stop is scheduled for Salina next week. The panel will also make stops in Dodge City, Wichita and Pittsburg. The results of the public hearings will be submitted to the Kansas Supreme Court at the end of the year.

KU Engineering School Gets Major Gift

University of Kansas officials have announced a major gift to the School of Engineering.

That's Stuart Bell, Dean of the KU School of Engineering, speaking at a news conference earlier today (FRI). The $32 million comes from the estate of Charles E. and Mary Jane Spahr (Spar). The couple had already donated $13 million to KU during their lifetime. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the gift will help meet a growing demand.

News of the donation comes a day after two bills concerning engineering passed the state legislature. One bill earmarks $10.5 million a year from lottery and casino revenue to engineering programs at KU, Kansas State and Wichita State. The other bill allows KU to build a new engineering education building. Both bills have been sent to the governor.

Ben Kirtland Sentencing Wraps Up Ticket Scandal Prosecution

A ticket scandal that tarnished the image of the University of Kansas has finally come to an end. The case concluded inside a federal courtroom this week when the last of seven defendants was sentenced. As Kansas Public Radio's Greg Echlin reports, some new faces in that department are now trying to mend fences and move forward.

Ben Kirtland Sentence Marks Closure in KU Ticket Scandal

Ben Kirtland, a former athletics department official at the University of Kansas, has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for his role in the KU ticket scandal. Kirtland received his sentence this (THUR) morning inside a federal courtroom in Wichita. U-S prosecuting attorney Barry Grissom says Kirtland’s sentence closes the book on this case.

Kirtland is the last of seven defendants to be sentenced in the conspiracy to steal and sell KU sports tickets. He was also ordered to pay more than a million dollars in restitution.

Bob Woodward to Deliver Dole Lecture Sunday at KU

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who helped break the Watergate story is coming to the University of Kansas this weekend.
Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward will speak Sunday afternoon at the Dole Institute of Politics. Institute Director Bill Lacy
says Woodward will talk about his career as an investigative journalist and about his series of political books.

Woodward will deliver the Dole Lecture at 2:30 Sunday afternoon. The talk is free and open to the public -- but seating is limited.
Doors at the Institute open at 1:45.

Journalist Bob Woodward to Deliver Dole Lecture

Bob Woodward, the investigative journalist who helped break the Watergate story, will give this year's Dole Lecture at the University of Kansas. Bill Lacy, the Director of the Dole Institute of Politics, says Woodward will deliver his remarks Sunday afternoon.

Woodward, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Washington Post, will speak at 2:30 Sunday afternoon. The event is free to the public, but seating is limited. Doors will open at 1:45.

Farm Aid 2011 to be Held in Kansas City, Kansas

For the first time in its 26 year history, Farm Aid will bring its annual benefit concert to Kansas. Farm Aid 2011 will be held Saturday, August 13 at the newly opened Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback says that like Farm Aid, Kansas is moving towards preserving the legacy of agriculture in the state.

Willlie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and others will team up for the one day event. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 20.

Train Travel Picks Up Steam in Kansas

With airfare and gas prices on the rise, budgeting for a vacation has become increasingly difficult. In response, some Americans are turning to the railroad for a cheaper way to travel. With Amtrak celebrating its 40th anniversary this month, KPR news intern Justine Greve (Greave) takes a look at train travel and its future in Kansas.

KPR news intern Justine Greve (Greave) is a Topeka native... and a graduate student in American Studies at the University of Kansas.

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